Cheetah, memorable co-star of Johnny Weissmuller in 1932's Tarzan the Ape Man and 1934's Tarzan and His Mate, passed away Wednesday, December 28th, at the age of 80. The former animal actor was living at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, where he succumbed to kidney failure.
Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary's outreach director, remarked that Cheetah was an outgoing chimp that loved finger painting and watching football. He was also a lover of Christian music. Cheetah had been living at the sanctuary since 1960, where he resided with 15 other primates.
Debbie Cobb made the following statement in regards to the passing of Cheetah.
"He was very compassionate. He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings. When he didn't like somebody or something that was going on, he would pick up some poop and throw it at them. He could get you at 30 feet with bars in between...He wasn't a chimp that caused a lot of problems."
Most chimpanzees in the wild only live to be between 25 and 35, with some living to 45 years of age in captivity. Cheetah's age was quite advanced for his particular breed.
Cheetah is not survived by any offspring. Since the time of his death, some have questioned the chimp's authenticity. Debbie Cobb claims that Johnny Weissmuller himself dropped Cheetah off at the sanctuary, but all documentation to that fact was lost in a fire sometime in 1995. At this time, there is no solid proof that the Cheetah who passed away on Wednesday was actually the star of any Tarzan film.