Oldest known Sumatran orangutan dies in Australia


The world's oldest Sumatran orangutan, a prolific mother who is estimated to have given birth to 10 per cent of the global population of the species in captivity, has died at the age of 62.

Perth Zoo has lost one of its favourites, the legendary Puan.

Due to the excellent health care offered at Perth Zoo, Puan exceeded the usual life expectancy for her species.

Zookeepers have paid emotional tribute to the world's oldest known Sumatran orangutan, "a grand old lady" who died at a Western Australian zoo on Monday.

Born in 1956, she was noted by the Guinness Book of Records as being the oldest verified Sumatran orangutan in the world.

"She demanded respect and she got respect".

Puan, which is Indonesian for lady, at Perth Zoo where she has lived since being gifted by Malaysia in 1968.

"Puan was a "hands off" individual".

"She was demanding, she would stamp her feet, she would tap her feet like a little war dance when she wanted something and it wasn't coming quickly enough".

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Puan leaves behind an impressive legacy. Female orangutans rarely live beyond 50 in the wild.

She has 11 children of her own and is a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

Puan had 11 children and a total of 54 descendants in the United States, Europe, Australasia and the jungles of Sumatra.

Its descendants now make up almost 10 per cent of the total population of the species in zoos around the world.

It read: 'Over the years Puan's eyelashes had greyed, her movement had slowed down and her mind had started to wander. I feel so grateful to have been in her life, albeit to have been such a small part of her life.

"Puan taught me patience, she taught me that natural and wild instincts never disappear in captivity".

She added that her legacy as a wild-born orangutan will be carried on by her great-grandson Nyaru who is now living in the jungles of Sumatra.

"Puan had people who had been working with her for a long long time, with her till the very end", she said, struggling to keep her composure.