Cheetah the Chimp, who co-starred in the 1930s Tarzan movies alongside Johnny Weissmuller, died Saturday at the age of 80.
The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Pal Harbor, Fla. announced on Wednesday that 80-year-old Cheetah the chimpanzee died Dec. 24 of kidney failure and the community has lost a dear friend and family member.
Suncoast Primate Sanctuary outreach director Debbie Cobb told The Tampa Tribune that Cheetah was roughly 80 years old, loved fingerpainting and football and was soothed by nondenominational Christian music. Cobb also mentioned that the chimpanzee seemed in tune to human emotion and loved to see people laugh.
Cobb told The Tampa Tribune that Cheetah was brought to the Sanctuary from the estate of Johnny Weissmuller, the star of the Tarzan films entitled Tarzan and His Mate and Tarzan the Ape Man and Olympic gold medal swimmer, in Ocala in the 1960s and had lived at the sanctuary since. Cheetah starred alongside Weissmuller as the comic relief for the films from 1932 to 1934.
Ron Priest, a volunteer at the sanctuary, told The Tampa Tribune that while Cheetah stood out because he could walk upright like a human, sometimes when angry, he threw feces.
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, Priest said.
Cheetah was resilient however, living much longer than the average chimpanzee; According to Debbie Cobb, the average chimp lives only about 35 to 45 years in a zoo.