World's oldest Sumatran orangutan dies aged 62

Puan with her baby in 1974

Puan, who was referred to as the "grand old lady" of Perth Zoo, had been a resident of the zoo since 1968 when she was gifted by Malaysia.

The world's oldest Sumatran Orangutan has been euthanised at a Perth Zoo, leaving behind a legacy of 54 descendants.

'She did so much for the colony at Perth Zoo and the survival of her species, ' said primate supervisor Holly Thompson. Her great-grandson Nyaru was the latest individual to be released into the wild. "She is survived by 11 children and a total of 54 descendants across the US, Europe and elsewhere".

There are less than 15,000 of the critically endangered species, which rarely reach age 50 in the wild, left in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They noted that if the staff did anything that offended Puan, she would tap her foot to express her unhappiness with them.

Puan's genetics were responsible for just under 10 per cent of the global zoological population of the species, Thompson said.

Perth Zoo broke the sad news this morning, Puan the orangutan has died.

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Thought to be born in 1956, the female Sumatran Orangutan was euthanized after her health rapidly declined due to her advanced years.

For her keepers, Puan's importance went beyond just awards and statistics.

Zookeeper Martina Hart, who had worked with Puan for 18 years, wrote a heartfelt obituary after her death. She was the matriarch of the Sumatran Orangutan tribe.

In an op-ed to the West Australian, zookeeper Martina Hart remembered Puan as "the maker of the most incredible nests, and the lady who took no nonsense from her children over the years, but was also the most nurturing mother we had".

Growing trees to produce palm oil - used in many popular foods - is a particular threat to primates in Indonesia, as is mining for gold and sapphires in Madagascar.

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