Showing posts with label urban legend. Show all posts
Showing posts with label urban legend. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Praise be to magic Cheeta

My title is meant to evoke the refrain of the delightful Tim Minchin song that I presented a few days ago [display].

A crazy story about the death of a chimpanzee has been taken up by media throughout the world. According to this story, the animal that has just died in a Florida primate sanctuary was the famous Cheeta, who was present in many of the Tarzan movies starring Johnny Weismuller. That's to say, the deceased animal would have been 80 years old… which would have made it some 25 years older than the normal life span of a captive chimpanzee.

This story should be taken with a grain of salt, because quite a few different chimpanzees were employed for the role of Cheeta. They are listed in the Wikipedia article on Tarzan and Cheeta [access]. For the story of another chimpanzee that was alleged to have been the real Cheeta, read an article by R D Rosen, Lie of the Jungle: the Truth about Cheeta the Chimpanzee, which appeared in the Washington Post in December 2008 [access].

This affair illustrates the amazing gullibility of countless media organizations. They all seem to have relied on a single source for this story: the lady in charge of chimpanzees at the Florida sanctuary. She appears to have claimed, incidentally, that the deceased chimpanzee could be "soothed by Christian music".