Heartiest congratulations to Cheeta the chimp, star of the Tarzan movies of the 1930s and 1940s, who celebrated his 74th birthday last week. Now officialy the world's oldest chimp, he lives in secluded retirement in California, doing a little painting and being taken to the occasional drive-in movie. Stil a trim 10 stone, he's as fit as a fiddle after giving up the beer and cigars. He made his name starring opposite Johnny Weissmuler and Maureen O'Sulivan, although there was often turbulence on the set.
Cheeta developed a crush on Tarzan and when he and Jane had scenes which involved a clinch, the chimp had to be chained up to prevent him biting the female lead. By his last film, DrDolittle, opposite Rex Harrison, Cheeta had calmed down somewhat.
Lifespan: - Wild born: 40 to 50 years, although a wild chimpanzee over 30 years old is considered geriatric
Lifespan: - Captive: 50 to 60 years
After years of effort by many organizations, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Chimpanzee Health, Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act (P.L. 106-551) in December 2000.
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