Perth Zoo has farewelled ‘Puan’ the oldest Sumatran Orangutan in the world.

At 62 years of age, the grand old ape was given a dignified end to her life, after various veterinary assessments confirmed age related complications were adversely impacting her ability to live a quality life.

Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson, said: “It’s always hard to make that decision for any animal, but it was the right decision and a respectful end for an old lady who demanded respect throughout her life. “

“She did so much for the colony at Perth Zoo and the survival of her species, so I am very proud of the level of care given to Puan throughout her years, but importantly in her final days,” said Holly.

Due to the excellent health care offered at Perth Zoo, Puan exceeded the usual life expectancy for her species. In the wild, if not succumbing to numerous threats, female Sumatran Orangutans would rarely live past 50 years of age.

Believed to be born in 1956, two years ago Puan was awarded a Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest verified Sumatran Orangutan in the world.

“Apart from being the oldest member of our colony, she was also the founding member of our world renowned breeding program and leaves an incredible legacy,” said Holly.

Puan had eleven children and 54 descendants spread across the United States, Europe, Australasia and the jungles of Sumatra. Her great grandson ‘Nyaru’ was the latest individual to be released into the wild.

“Her genetics count for just under 10% of the global zoological population. That’s impressive statistics,” said Holly.

Puan will be remembered by zoo staff as an aloof individual who lived her life on her terms. “She didn’t suffer fools, you always knew where you stood with Puan, and she would actually stamp her foot if she was dissatisfied with something you did!”

“She was a beautiful independent lady whose legacy is unparalleled,” said Holly.

Read the moving tribute to Puan written by Perth Zoo Keeper Martina Hart. This was published in The West Australian on June 19 2018.


  • It is believed Puan was born in Sumatra in 1956.
  • Puan had been cared for by Perth Zoo since 31 December 1968.
  • As was common in that era she was gifted by the Sultan Johore in Malaysia in exchange for some Australian animals.
  • She was awarded a Guinness Book of Records in 2016 for being the oldest verified Sumatran Orangutan in the world.
  • At Perth Zoo she is survived by her daughters, ‘Puteri’ and ‘Pulang’, four grandchildren, ‘Utama’, ‘Teliti’, ‘Sekara’ and ‘Lestari’ and great grandson ‘Sungai’.
  • Puan is Indonesian for lady.