Jumbo Celebrations for Perth Zoo Matriarchs
Perth Zoo is celebrating birthday milestones for two of its oldest residents today, ‘Tricia’ the Asian Elephant and ‘Puan’ the Sumatran Orangutan.
The elephant and orangutan are some of the oldest animals cared for at Perth Zoo, and amongst the oldest of their species alive today with Tricia turning 61 and Puan thought to be 62 this January.
Both animals will receive specially made birthday cakes filled with their favourite foods.
Primate Keeper, Katie Saunders, said: “Most people think that Tricia is the oldest animal at the Zoo, but Puan beats her by a year. She actually holds a Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest Sumatran Orangutan in a Zoo anywhere in the world.”
The grand old ape came to Perth Zoo in 1968, it is believed she was born in 1956. As was common in that bygone era, she was gifted by the Sultan of Jahore in Malaysia in exchange for some Australian animals.
“Puan is an exceptionally important member of the Perth Zoo family. She is the founder of our world famous breeding program with her offspring now residing all over the world,” said Katie.
Due to the excellent health care offered at Perth Zoo, Puan has exceeded the usual life expectancy of her species. In the wild if not succumbing to numerous threats, female Sumatran Orangutans would rarely live past 50 years of age. “She has slowed down a lot, but has certainly not lost any of her Puan stubbornness. She doesn’t suffer fools and will stamp her foot to voice her impatience, but as the grand old dame of our colony she is treated with respect befitting an ape of her age.”
Unlike Puan, Tricia the Asian Elephant’s birthday is booked-marked by many within the wider Perth community with generations of locals having grown up alongside the iconic pachyderm.
Tricia arrived at Perth Zoo is 1963 from Vietnam via Singapore. At 61 years she has entered her twilight years, the longest lived elephant within Australasia was 63 years of age.
“Like Puan, she has certainly slowed down a lot in the past few years and has some age related aches and pains which are alleviated with daily massage, veterinary treatments and exercise,” said Kirsty Carey, Senior Elephant Keeper. “This past year she also began to feel the cold more than usual so we got a jumbo sized blanket made to keep her toasty warm when she is out and about on the cooler mornings.”
“She is doing well for an old girl, but we know she won’t live forever, every birthday we celebrate with her is a bonus. I am very privileged to be able to care for her in her elderly years, and she’s certainly lost none of her cheekiness,” said Kirsty.
The two animals are celebrating their milestone birthdays within Perth Zoo’s historic 120th year of operation. Perth Zoo opened to the public 17 October 1898. Big Zoo birthday celebrations are being planned for later in the year.