The Fake Death of Cheetah the Chimp

As far as death hoaxes goes, this is a strange one, both because it involves a chimp and also because it's a fake death report of someone who died long ago.

The story began last week, around Christmas, when it was reported that Cheetah, the chimp who played Tarzan's sidekick in the 1930s Tarzan films, had died at the ripe old age of 80. He had apparently spent the last decades of his life at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Florida. The cause of death was kidney failure.

I remember seeing the headlines about the death and thinking it was odd a chimp could live that long. And sure enough, primate experts quickly disputed the story, saying there was no way a chimp could live to be 80. Chimps that live to 60 are considered very, very old. If Cheetah had lived to be 80, he would have been, by far, the oldest chimp in the world -- ever.

Nevertheless, Debbie Cobb, the director of the Sanctuary, is standing by her story. She insists that the chimp that died was acquired by the Sanctuary around 1960, at which time he was already close to 30. But unfortunately no documentation exists to prove the chimp's age.

So, given the lack of documentation and the dubious longevity of the chimp, it seems safe to assume that the chimp who died never starred in any Tarzan films. Links: abc news, ny times.

Animals Death

Posted on Sun Jan 01, 2012


I wonder if it's possible that her predecessor or another senior employee at the sanctuary told her that it was Cheetah.

Also, I seem to have a vague recollection of hearing this story before? Maybe just deja vu.
Posted by Robin Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Mon Jan 02, 2012  at  05:14 AM
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