Palm Harbor, Fla. — A Florida animal sanctuary says Cheetah, the chimpanzee sidekick in the Tarzan movies of the early 1930s, has died at 80. But other accounts call that claim into question.
Debbie Cobb, outreach director at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, said Wednesday that her grandparents acquired Cheetah around 1960 from "Tarzan" star Johnny Weissmuller
and that the chimp appeared in Tarzan films between 1932 and 1934. During that period, Weissmuller made "Tarzan the Ape Man
" and "Tarzan and His Mate
But Cobb offered no documentation, saying it was destroyed in a 1995 fire.
Also, some Hollywood accounts indicate a chimpanzee by the name of Jiggs or Mr. Jiggs played Cheetah alongside Weissmuller early on and died in 1938.
In addition, an 80-year-old chimpanzee would be extraordinarily old, perhaps the oldest ever known. According to many experts and Save the Chimps, another Florida sanctuary, chimpanzees in captivity generally live to between 40 and 60, though Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee,