World's oldest Sumatran orang utan dies aged 62

Puan, the matriarch of Perth Zoo's Sumatran orang utan colony, seen in her enclosure in October 2016. She had 11 children and 54 descendants and her genetics count for just under 10 per cent of the global zoological population.
Puan, the matriarch of Perth Zoo's Sumatran orang utan colony, seen in her enclosure in October 2016. She had 11 children and 54 descendants and her genetics count for just under 10 per cent of the global zoological population.PHOTO: PERTH ZOO

PERTH • The world's oldest Sumatran orang utan, who had 11 children and 54 descendants spread across the globe, has died aged 62, Australian zoo officials said yesterday.

Puan - Indonesian for "lady" - was euthanised on Monday at Perth Zoo, due to age-related complications. She had lived there since being gifted by Malaysia in 1968.

"She did so much for the colony at Perth Zoo and the survival of her species," said primate supervisor Holly Thompson. "Apart from being the oldest member of our colony, she was also the founding member of our world-renowned breeding programme and leaves an incredible legacy.

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

Puan had descendants in the United States, Europe, Australasia and the jungles of Sumatra. Her great-grandson Nyaru was the latest individual to be released into the wild.

Born in 1956, she was noted by the Guinness Book of Records as being the oldest verified Sumatran orang utan in the world. Female orang utans rarely live beyond 50 in the wild.

Ms Thompson said she was an aloof and independent individual.

"You always knew where you stood with Puan, and she would actually stamp her foot if she was dissatisfied with something you did."

She leaves two daughters at the zoo, along with four grandchildren and a great-grandson.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2018, with the headline 'World's oldest Sumatran orang utan dies aged 62'. Print Edition | Subscribe