Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Cheetah, 80, R.I.P.
December 27, 2011 by Don Surber
The good folks at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida, spared us all a sad holiday by waiting until today to announce:
“It is with great sadness that the community has lost a dear friend and family member on December 24, 2011. Cheetah, star of the Tarzan films, passed away after kidney failure during the week of December 19, 2011. 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.”
Although he appeared in only a few Johnny Weissmuller movies in the early 1930s, Cheetah-Mike was the Cheetah for a generation of children who watched the old black-and-white movies in the early years of television. He was also the inspiration for Blip in the cartoon series Space Ghost. Face it, Blip was the real hero who every week had to rescue Space Ghost after the twins landed him in trouble.
He lived in captivity about three times longer than he would have in the wild. Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary’s outreach director, told the Tampa Tribune: “He wasn’t a chimp that caused a lot of problems… He was very compassionate. He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings.”
He spent about half his life at the sanctuary. In some ways, he wound up better than many a Hollywood movie star of that era.