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Perth Zoo orangutan oldest in the world

Puan orangutan Perth Zoo
Puan's lineage extends far and wide with her descendants in zoos around the world. Photo: AAP/Rebecca Gredley
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A female ape at Perth Zoo has been named the oldest Sumatran orangutan in the world, earning her a Guinness World Record.

Puan, 60, has exceeded the usual life expectancy for her species, with wild female Sumatran orangutans rarely living past 50.

She is the matriarch of Perth Zoo’s orangutan colony, with 11 children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Primate keeper Martina Hart said Puan was the founder of their breeding colony, and her lineage extends far and wide, with descendants now in various zoos around the world.

In August, her Perth Zoo-born great-grandson Nyaru, eight, was released into the Indonesian rainforest.

“She’s also a fundamental part of our release program, helping our zoo-born orangutans for wild life by teaching them how to make robust nests, one of the vital survival skills,” Ms Hart said.

“Despite her great age, Puan has lost none of her attitude. She’ll definitely tell you off and stamp her foot if she has to wait too long for her food.”

Puan arrived at the zoo on December 31, 1968 with three other orangutans as a gift from Sultan Johore of Malaysia, in exchange for native Australian animals such as kangaroos, emus, owls and other birds.

Ms Hart said the exceptional care of Puan’s keepers and vet staff has contributed to her milestone birthday.

Puan Sumatran orangutan Perth Zoo
Arthritic and grumpy but in good nick – Puan is the world’s oldest Sumatran orangutan. Photo: AAP/Perth Zoo/Alex Asbury

“She’s in very good condition, she looks incredible and has an amazing coat. She’s a little bit arthritic nowadays so does have some arthritis medication at night, but otherwise she’s in really good condition,” Ms Hart told reporters.

The process to achieve the Guinness World Record took about 18 months, including research into old keeper records and information from previous volunteers.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered with about 7300 in the wild.


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