PALM HARBOR (CBSMiami/AP) – In the 1930s and 1940, he swung alongside Tarzan in the movies providing comic relief and sometimes helping the ape-man escape from a dangerous situation.
On Christmas Eve, Cheetah the chimpanzee died at the age of at the 80 at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor from kidney failure. Sanctuary outreach director Debbie Cobb said Cheetah was outgoing, loved finger painting and liked to see people laugh. She says he seemed to be tuned into human feelings.
Based on the works of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Tarzan stories, which have spawned scores of books and films over the years, chronicle the adventures of a man who was raised by apes in Africa.
Cheetah was the sidekick in the Tarzan films that starred American Olympic gold medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller. Cobb says Cheetah came to the sanctuary from Weissmuller’s estate sometime around 1960.
Cobb says Cheetah wasn’t a troublemaker. Still, sanctuary volunteer Ron Priest says that when the chimp didn’t like what was going on, he would throw feces.
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