Oldest Sumatran Orangutan Dies, Leaves 'Incredible Legacy'

Puan, longtime resident of Australia's Perth Zoo, had 54 descendants around the world
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2018 9:00 AM CDT

Australia knew her as the "Grand Old Lady" of Perth Zoo, and the world, via Guinness World Records, knew her as the oldest known Sumatran orangutan on Earth. Sadly, Puan had been suffering of late from age-related issues, and so she was euthanized on Monday at the age of 62. But the great ape leaves behind what the BBC calls an "incredible legacy," with 11 children and a total of 54 descendants scattered around the planet, as well as the accomplishment of living into her 60s (Sumatran orangutans don't usually live past 50). "Her genetics count for just under 10% of the global zoological population," the zoo's primate supervisor says. "She did so much for the colony at Perth Zoo and the survival of her species."

Puan was thought to have been born in a Sumatran jungle in Indonesia in 1956, and she was given to the zoo by a Malaysian sultan in 1968, per CNN. In an op-ed in the West Australian, zookeeper Martina Hart recalls Puan as "the maker of the most amazing nests" and "the lady who took no nonsense from her children over the years, but … also the most nurturing mother we had." And if zoo staff was late with her meal: "She would let you know by tapping her foot to make you hurry along. You always knew where you stood with Puan." The Perth Zoo has uploaded a goodbye video to the esteemed orangutan on YouTube, bidding farewell to a creature "who demanded respect and earned respect," per the description accompanying the video. "Rest in peace Puan," her former caretakers mourn. "May you climb happily in the jungles of the sky." (This is the longest-nursing of any primate.)

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