Puan, the world’s oldest Sumatran Orang-utan, passes away at Perth Zoo


Puan passed away from complication of old age. Picture: Alex Ashury
Puan passed away from complication of old age. Picture: Alex Ashury

THE oldest Sumatran Orang-utan in the world passed away yesterday at Perth Zoo.

Sixty-two-year-old Puan was given a dignified end to her life after various veterinary assessments confirmed age-related complications were adversely affecting her ability to have a quality life.

Primate supervisor Holly Thompson said it was always hard to make the decision to put down any animal, but it was the right decision and a respectful end for the old primate who demanded respect throughout her life.

“She did so much for the colony at Perth Zoo and the survival of her species, so I am very proud of the level of care given to Puan throughout her years, but importantly in her final days,” Ms Thompson said.

“She didn’t suffer fools, you always knew where you stood with her and she would actually stamp her foot if she was dissatisfied with something you did.”

Due to the excellent health care offered at Perth Zoo, Puan exceeded the usual life expectancy for her species.

In the wild, if not succumbing to numerous threats, female Sumatran Orang-utans would rarely live past 50 years of age.

Believed born in 1956, two years ago Puan was recognised by Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest verified Sumatran Orang-utan in the world.

“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,” Ms Thompson said.

Puan had eleven children and 54 descendants spread across the United States, Europe, Australasia and the jungles of Sumatra.

Her great grandson Nyaru was the latest individual to be released into the wild.

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

“She was a beautiful independent lady whose legacy is unparalleled.”