Palm Harbor, Florida -- Cheetah, the playful chimp who rose to fame in the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies of the 1930s, has died at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, a Sanctuary spokesman said tonight.
He was 80 years old.
Cheetah suffered kidney failure during the week of December 19th and died Christmas Eve.
Photo Gallery: Chimpanzees at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary
The chimpanzee was one of several appearing as the character Cheetah in the Tarzan movies. His service ran from the 1932 to 1934, the Sanctuary reported.
"The Sanctuary's residents and volunteers would like to thank all of the community members for their continued support as the Sanctuary continues to expand on the legacy and foundation Cheetah continues to oversee as he watches over his supporters, friends, and family," the Sanctuary's website announcement stated.
Cheetah was aquired by a predecessor to the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, the "Chimp Farm," in 1960 from the estate of actor Johnny Weissmuller, according to the sanctuary's outreach coordinator Debbie Cobb. The facility served as a retirement home for the chimp, as well as other Hollywood animal extras,
Cheetah was "one of our most outgoing" chimps, Cobb said, and he delighted visitors.
Flowers to mark his passing are already arriving at the sanctuary, which is planning to hold a "Day of Remembrance" for Cheetah in the days ahead.
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Suncoast Primary Sanctuary