Cheetah the Chimp Dead at 80

Famous chimp was once thought to have been Tarzan's sidekick

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 28, 2011 12:02 AM CST

(Newser) – America's most famous chimp has died of liver failure at a primate sanctuary in Florida. Cheetah was once believed to have starred alongside Johnny Weissmuller in the '30s Tarzan movies. But an author hired to write his "autobiography" debunked most of the famous chimp's life story, determining that Cheetah—once owned by a Hollywood animal trainer fond of telling tall tales—had never appeared in any movies, and was only around 50 years old, not 80 as the animal sanctuary claimed.

Cheetah was inherited by the trainer's nephew, who set up a sanctuary for show business primates where the chimp spent most of his life—and where revelations about the chimp's real past only increased people's interest. "I've had emails from people saying that myth and magic are far more important than facts and figures," the nephew says. Sanctuary workers describe Cheetah as an outgoing chimp who loved finger painting and making people laugh—but who wouldn't hesitate to fling poop when he didn't like what was going on.

A birthday party for Cheetah.
A birthday party for Cheetah.   (YouTube)
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