June 19 (UPI) — Puan, the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the world, has died at the Perth Zoo in Australia, officials said. She was 62.
The female orangutan was euthanized due to what veterinarians said were age-related complications affecting her quality of life, Perth Zoo said in a statement Tuesday.
Holly Thompson, a primate supervisor at the zoo, said it was difficult to end Puan’s life on Monday, but noted it was the right and respectful choice.
“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,” Thompson said.
Puan — which means “lady” in Indonesian — was believed to be born in Sumatra in 1956 and has been in the care of the Perth zoo since 1968. The orangutan was gifted by the Sultan Johore in Malaysia in exchange for some Australian animals.
Two years ago, the elderly orangutan claimed the Guinness World Record as the oldest 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. Twenty-nine of those descendants are still alive, with Puan’s genetics accounting for nearly 10 percent of the global zoological population, Thompson added.
Six of Puan’s offspring live at the Perth Zoo.
Martina Hunt, the animal’s keeper for over 18 years, wrote a tribute Tuesday in The West Australian.
“Over the years Puan’s eyelashes had greyed, her movement had slowed down and her mind had started to wander,” Hunt wrote. “But she remained the matriarch, the quiet, dignified lady she had always been. Puan demanded and deserved respect, and she certainly had it from all her keepers over the years.”
“Rest in peace Puan, may you climb happily in the jungles of the sky.”