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Cheetah the 'Tarzan' chimp dead, aged 80, in Florida

Cheetah the "Tarzan" chimp, who in his lengthy retirement enjoyed fingerpainting, nondenominational Christian music and throwing poop, died of kidney failure at Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Tarzan chimp dead 12 28 2011Enlarge
Cheetah, the chimp who stared in Tarzan films, died at Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida. He died aged 80 after kidney failure, the sanctuary said. (Suncoast Primate Sanctuary/Facebook)

Cheetah the chimp, who starred in "Tarzan" films in the early 1930s, has died. He was 80.

The "Tarzan" chimpanzee had been living at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida, since around 1960. He died of kidney failure, the sanctuary said on its website.

Cheetah acted in "Tarzan" films from 1932-34, starring alongside Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, the sanctuary said. 

In the wild, the average chimp lives for 45 years, according to National Geographic.

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Debbie Cobb, a spokeswoman for the sanctuary, told the Tampa Tribune that Cheetah was an outgoing chimp who loved fingerpainting, football and nondenominational Christian music.

"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," Cobb said.

A volunteer at the sanctuary told the Tribune that Cheetah also had an impressive throwing arm.

"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," Ron Priest told the paper.

According to the BBC, Cheetah the chimp who died in Florida was not the only "Tarzan" chimpanzee. 

A chimp called "Cheeta" who lives in Palm Springs, California was said to be the chimp in the "Tarzan" films.

But following research for a biography of Cheeta, recounted in a Washington Post story, the claim was withdrawn.

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