Cheetah the chimpanzee, who played Tarzan’s sidekick in the 1930s films, died on Christmas Eve of kidney failure at age 80, according to the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla.
Debbie Cobb, the outreach director of the sanctuary, told the Tampa Tribune that Cheetah always seemed in tuned to human feelings. Cobb said the chimp was very outgoing and reportedly loved finger painting. But sanctuary volunteer Rob Priest said that when the chimp didn’t like what was going on he would throw feces.
Cheetah starred alongside American Olympic gold medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, and lived on the actor’s estate until sometime around 1960, when he came to the sanctuary. The chimp played the comic relief in the Tarzan films, which were based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories about a man raised by apes in Africa.