World's oldest known Sumatran orangutan dies

Puan was given to Perth zoo in 1968

Puan was given to Perth zoo in 1968.

A Perth zookeeper has penned a heartfelt tribute to the world's oldest Sumatran Orangutan after she died at a West Australian 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.

Holly Thompson, a primate supervisor at the zoo, said it was hard to end Puan's life on Monday, but noted it was the right and respectful choice.

She was awarded a Guinness Book of Records title in 2016 for being the oldest verified Sumatran orangutan in the world.

Puan was the founding member of the Perth Zoo's breeding program - giving birth to eleven children and having 54 descendants that were sent across the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia.

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

Some of Puan's descendants have been released back into the wild in Sumatra, the zoo said.

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"To look at Puan is to look into the eyes of an animal (and I find even saying "animal" to feel slightly disrespectful) who has seen so much in her lifetime that the mind boggles", she wrote.

Ms Thompson said she was an aloof and independent individual.

She leaves behind an incredible legacy that includes 11 children, most of which are now wild orangutans that are each expected to reproduce four times in their lives.

Sumatran orangutans are a critically endangered species with about 7,500 left in the world, according to WWF figures.

She even exhibited those motherly mannerisms toward her zookeepers.

With many species living in rainforests, the cutting down of millions of acres of forest to supply the increasing demand for timber or to clear land for agriculture is destroying their habitat and making populations more fragmented.

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

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