Perth zookeeper's heartfelt tribute after world's oldest orangutan dies

19 June, 2018, 20:56 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Puan known as the “grand old lady” of Perth zoo was a great-grandmother

Puan was given to Perth zoo in 1968 and is believed to have been born in Sumatra 1956.

The world's oldest Sumatran Orangutan has been euthanised at a West Australian Zoo.

The world's oldest Sumatran orangutan has died at Perth Zoo on Monday, aged 62 years old.

At 62 years she lived well beyond her typical life expectancy and was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest verified member of her species in 2016.

A critically endangered species, Sumatran orangutans rarely reach age 50 in the wild, the zoo said. "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".

She has 54 descendants, 29 still alive and spread across Australia, the US, Europe, Singapore and Sumatra.

"Her genetics count for just under 10 per cent of the global zoological population", Thompson added.

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"It feels quite surreal to have said goodbye, we all know that life isn't infinite, but for some reason Puan has always just seemed to be the one who might prove us wrong", Ms. Hart wrote.

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

Zookeeper Martina Hart, who has known Puan for 18 years, said even in her old age the mother of 11 remained the matriarch and the dignified lady she had always been. "But to me, she'll always remain a big part of my life", she wrote for Perth Now.

Thompson said she was an aloof and independent individual.

At the Perth Zoo, Puan leaves behind two daughters, four grandchildren and a great grandson.

"She really has seen it all, from the jungles of the wild to the old exhibits here at Perth, to our now world class exhibits". This is predicted to increase in coming decades.

With many species living in rainforests, the cutting down of millions of acres of forest to supply the increasing demand for timber or to clear land for agriculture is destroying their habitat and making populations more fragmented.

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