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Perth zookeeper's heartfelt tribute after world's oldest orangutan dies

Puan has 54 descendants around the world

The world's oldest Sumtran orangutan, Puan has bid the Perth Zoo a goodbye after it died at age 62 leaving 54 descendants behind.

"She has done so much for the Perth Zoo colony and the survival of her species", said Holly Thompson, head of the primates at the facility.

Female orangutans rarely live beyond 50 in the wild.

"Puan taught me patience, she taught me that natural and wild instincts never disappear in captivity. She is survived by 11 children and a total of 54 descendants across the US, Europe and elsewhere".

Ms Thompson said she was an aloof and independent individual.

"To arrive at Perth Zoo from the Sultan of Jahore's private zoo, in 1968, would have been quite the journey for her".

She was recognized as world oldest of her species by the Guinness World Records in 2016.

For her keepers, Puan's importance went beyond just awards and statistics.

Puan, the 62-year-old grand dame of Perth Zoo, was put to sleep.

"You always knew where you stood with Puan, and she would actually stamp her foot if she was dissatisfied with something you did".

"As hard as it was for us, it was the right thing to do", Martina Hart added.

Buan was treated to the sight of Sumatran orangutans, which, to date, there are about 14.6 thousand.

In an op-ed to the West Australian, zookeeper Martina Hart remembered Puan as "the maker of the most fantastic nests, and the lady who took no nonsense from her children over the years, but was also the most nurturing mother we had".

The orange apes are solitary but social animals and tend to live in small groups until they reach adulthood.

With many species living in rainforests, the cutting down of millions of acres of forest to supply the increasing demand for timber or to clear land for agriculture is destroying their habitat and making populations more fragmented.