Cheetah is Still Monkeyin' Around

By JL Strickland

Many Alabamians will be amazed to learn that Cheeta, the famous, charismatic chimpanzee featured in those old black and white "Tarzan" movies, is still alive.

Maybe some of you remember seeing Cheetah in Tarzan movies at the Martin Theatre in downtown Dothan. Or perhaps you were drawn to the more downscale, but interesting, ambiance of the Houston Theatre.


As reported by National Public Radio, Cheeta, now 74 years old, is enjoying a comfortable retirement at the Palm Springs, CA, "Cheeta Primate Foundation," a rest home for showbiz animals.

The Guinness World Records (in addition to listing Dothan for the smallest city block in the world) currently lists Cheeta as the oldest chimpanzee on earth, possibly the oldest chimp ever. He is the ape family's version of Strom Thurmond.

According to Dan Westfall, owner of the home, Cheeta likes to play the piano, watch TV, go for rides in the car, take walks, look at pictures in magazines, place orders at a fast-food drive-thru, and most incredible, paint pictures that are sold over the internet for $125.00 each.

During the forties, Cheeta was probably the most popular movie star at the mill-village theater where I grew up. If real, instead of virtual monkeys, could run for office, textile workers would have elected Cheeta president faster than lint will make you sneeze.

Cheeta also continues his interest in politics. Having switched parties and become a staunch Republican in protest of FDR's WWII rationing of bananas, Cheeta, is one of the 22% of Americans who still supports George Bush.

Cheeta supports Bush because, unlike human retirees, Cheeta has a health plan that works. If Cheeta were on Social Security and Medicare, he would be wringing his hands, screeching, and doing back-flips like he did in the "Tarzan" movies.

(Unfortunately, the only time we old lintheads can turn a flip is when we get tangled up in our walkers.)

Since there was never even a hint of scandal regarding his morals, Cheeta was an excellent role model for children. I grew up with kids who emulated Cheeta in, oh, so many ways. (Some have retained simian-like proclivities well into advanced adulthood.)

But even Cheeta is not safe from vile innuendoes. Just because he prefers the Girl's Happy Meal at McDonald's, some lowlifes question Cheeta's sexual orientation.

Cheeta deserves respect and love for the joy and entertainment he brought to millions. We should not bother ourselves with Cheeta's private life.

If "'don't ask, don't tell" is good enough for the American military, it's good enough for the monkey nursing home. makes it easier for you to:

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