Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

World's oldest orangutan Puan dies at Western Australia zoo

World's oldest orangutan Puan dies at Western Australia zoo

Puan, whose name translates to "Lady" in Indonesian, played an essential role at the Perth Zoo.

Described as "dignified" and the "grand old lady" of Perth Zoo, she was euthanised due to age-related complications.

As the founder of our world renowned breeding program her legacy is phenomenal with descendants living all over the world.

"Her genetics count for just under 10 per cent of the global zoological population, which is an impressive statistic", Ms Thompson said.

During her life Puan had 11 children and her 54 descendants are now spread throughout the world's zoos as well as the jungles of Sumatra. Her great-grandson Nyaru was the latest individual to be released into the wild.

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She had been at the zoo since 1968, and was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest of her species in 2016.

Female orangutans rarely live beyond 50 in the wild. "Puan demanded and deserved respect", she said.

Zookeeper Martina Hart said Puan "went extremely peacefully".

In an op-ed to the West Australian, zookeeper Martina Hart remembered Puan as "the maker of the most incredible nests, and the lady who took no nonsense from her children over the years, but was also the most nurturing mother we had".

While she passed away at 62-years-old, she leaves behind an impeccable legacy.

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Two of her daughters still live at the zoo, along with four grandchildren and a great grandson.

According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), there are only about 14,600 Sumatran orangutans.

The zookeeper recounted memories of the orangutan, including her ability to let everyone know where she stood with them, retaining a "hands off" attitude and even tapping her foot in impatience if her dinner wasn't quick enough.

Behind the collapse in primate numbers is an increase in industrial agriculture.

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