animal sanctuary says Cheeta the chimpanzee sidekick in the Tarzan movies of the early 1930s has died at age 80. The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Florida announced that Cheeta died Dec. 24 of kidney failure. Sanctuary outreach director Debbie Cobb told The Tampa Tribune on Wednesday that Cheeta was outgoing, loved finger painting and liked to see people laugh. She says he seemed to be tuned into human feelings. Palm Harbor
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. Cheeta was the comic relief in the Tarzan film series that starred American Olympic gold-medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller. Cobb says Cheeta came to the sanctuary from Weissmuller's own estate sometime around 1960. Cobb says Cheeta 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. That is hilarious (and so in character from his famous films). I'm glad that Cheeta lived to a ripe old age, and like many of you saddened to hear of his passing.