Cheetah, chimp star of classic Tarzan movies, dies at 80

posted 2011-12-28 09:27:57 by grendel

Cheetah the Chimp, who appeared in classic Tarzan movies in the early 1930s, has died of kidney failure at the age of 80, WTSP TV reports reports.

The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla., says the community "has lost a dear friend and family member" with the death of Cheetah on Dec. 24.

Sanctuary outreach director Debbie Cobb tells The Tampa Tribune that the chimp was outgoing, loved finger-painting and liked to see people laugh.

Cobb says Cheetah came to the sanctuary from the estate of Johnny Weissmuller, former American Olympic gold medal swimmer who played Tarzan in the 1930s.

Cheetan played Tarzan's comic sidekick from 1932 to 1934, the sanctuary tells WTSP.

Ron Priest, a sanctuary volunteer for seven years, tells the newspaper that Cheetah stood out with his ability to stand up and walk like a human, with shoulders tall, and back straight.

Cobb says the average chimp survives 25 to 35 years in the wild and 35 to 45 years in zoos.