Cheetah, a chimpanzee that a Florida primate sanctuary says appeared in the Tarzan film franchise beginning in the 1930s, has died.
The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla. announced that the chimpanzee — who staffers say was roughly 80 years old — died on Dec. 24 of kidney failure.
Cheetah appeared in the Hollywood Tarzan films starring U.S Olympic champion swimmer Johnny Weissmuller beginning in 1932, according to Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary's outreach director.
The chimp was outgoing, enjoyed making people laugh, was a fan of finger painting and appeared to be "in tune to human feelings," Cobb told the Tampa Tribune and television station WFLA.
As one of several chimps used in the films, he is believed to have appeared alongside Weissmuller in titles such as Tarzan the Ape Man and Tarzan and his Mate. Cheetah first arrived at the Florida sanctuary from Weissmuller's estate around 1960, Cobb said.
Weissmuller died in 1984.
Since announcing the chimp's death, the sanctuary has received a flood of condolences on its website from fans — both locals who visited him in person and those in different countries who recalled the Tarzan films.