'Tarzan' co-star Cheetah the chimp dead at 80

Dec. 28, 2011 at 9:12 AM

TAMPA, Fla., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Cheetah, the chimpanzee who starred in several Tarzan movies in the 1930s, has died of kidney failure, said the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla.

He was 80.

Cheetah had been at the sanctuary since 1960. Before that, he lived on his co-star Johnny Weissmuller's estate in Ocala, the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune said.

Weissmuller died in 1984 at age 79.

"He wasn't a chimp that caused a lot of problems," sanctuary spokeswoman Debbie Cobb told the newspaper about the facility's most famous resident.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb said. "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."

The average chimp survives about 25 to 35 years in the wild and 35 to 45 years in zoos, the Tribune noted.

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