Zookeeper's heartfelt tribute after the death of world's oldest orangutan

World’s oldest Sumatran orangutan dies at 62

Yesterday the Zoo family farewelled Puan, the oldest orangutan in the world, due to age related complications.

"There really aren't words to describe Puan and the impact she has had on not only the breeding program at Perth Zoo, but also on the people who over the past 50-odd years have cared for her", Perth Zoo keeper Martina Hart wrote in the West Australian paper Tuesday.

She was a grand old lady who demanded respect and earned respect.

She had been at the zoo since 1968, and was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest of her species in 2016. She well exceeded the life expectancy of Sumatran orang-utans, with most not living past the age of 50. "She was the founding female of the best breeding colony in the world".

"To arrive at Perth Zoo from the Sultan of Jahore's private zoo, in 1968, would have been quite the journey for her".

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

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

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

A statement from the Perth Zoo said Puan would be remembered by zoo staff as an "aloof individual who lived her life on her terms".

It read: 'Over the years Puan's eyelashes had greyed, her movement had slowed down and her mind had started to wander. "But to me, she'll always remain a big part of my life".

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

"She was born in the jungles of Sumatra, and I can only imagine how she would have dealt with being taken from the wild and placed in captivity". 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.

Nearly all (94 per cent and 97 per cent) of the primate populations in these countries are in decline.

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