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Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Zookeeper's heartfelt tribute to world's oldest Sumatran orangutan

Zookeeper's heartfelt tribute to world's oldest Sumatran orangutan

Two years ago, the elderly orangutan claimed the Guinness World Record as the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the world.

Saddened visitors and staff members gathered to pay tribute to the beloved primate, which was one of the zoo's favorite attractions.

"Puan is one of the more hard members of our colony to write about - she's not as outgoing as Sekara, as sweet as Utama or as placid as Dinar, but she certainly holds a special place in everyone's hearts, and her legacy is quite simply incredible".

Overall she has 54 descendants, with 29 still living around the world in Australia, Europe, United States, Singapore and Sumatra.

She said: "Over the years Puan's eyelashes had greyed, her movement had slowed down and her mind had started to wander".

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered species who rarely reach the age of 50 in the jungle, the zoo authorities said, a BBC report said and Puan's greatness lies in the fact that she helped spread her species globally, doing a favour to its global survival.

Some of Puan's descendants have been released back into the wild in Sumatra, the zoo said. "We knew what to do with Puan, and if she was unhappy she would just kick her foot".

An October 24, 2016 photo shows Sumatran orangutan Puan (which is Indonesian for lady) at Perth Zoo, where she lived since being gifted by Malaysia in 1968.

"Puan demanded and deserved respect, and she certainly had it from all her keepers over the years".

Zookeeper Martina Hart said Puan "went extremely peacefully".

The World Wildlife Fund have it that there are only about 14,600 Sumatran orangutans.

Behind the collapse in numbers is an increase in industrial agriculture, large-scale cattle ranching, logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, dam building and road construction.

Researchers found that if things continue as they are, by the end of the century primate range will have contracted by 78 per cent in Brazil, 72 per cent in Indonesia, 62 per cent in Madagascar and 32 per cent in the DRC.

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