World’s oldest Sumatran orangutan dies at 62

Perth Zoo broke the sad news this morning, Puan the orangutan has died. The Perth Zoo euthanized Puan after she developed age-related health complications.

The world's oldest Sumatran orangutan has died at a zoo in Western Australia.

"Apart from being the oldest member of our colony, she was also the founding member of our world renowned breeding program and leaves an incredible legacy".

As the mother of 11 children, Puan's genetics account for just under 10% of the global zoological population, according to Perth Zoo.

Some of Puan's descendants have been released back into the wild in Sumatra, the zoo said.

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

While several zoo officials remembered her for being "aloof", Perth Zoo staff members knew where they stood with the Sumatran Orangutan.

"To look at Puan is to look into the eyes of an animal (and I find even saying "animal" to feel slightly disrespectful) who has seen so much in her lifetime that the mind boggles", she wrote.

Zookeeper Martina Hart, who had worked with Puan for 18 years, wrote a heartfelt obituary after her death. "But to me, she'll always remain a big part of my life". She passed away at the "grand old age" of 62, zookeepers said.

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

Sumatran orangutans are a critically endangered species and rarely reach age 50 in the wild.

Buan was treated to the sight of Sumatran orangutans, which, to date, there are about 14.6 thousand. This is predicted to increase in coming decades.

The illegal trade in bushmeat - killing apes and monkeys for their flesh - is also decimating the animals, as is changing climates and diseases spread from humans to apes.

Two thirds of all primates are found in just four countries - Brazil (23 per cent), Madagascar (23 per cent), Indonesia (11 per cent) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (8 per cent) - and 60 per cent of these species are now threatened with extinction.

  • Joey Payne