The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : December 2011 The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : December 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cheetah Dead at 80, but was Chimp Really Tarzan's Sidekick?

Cheetah dead at 80, but was chimp really Tarzan's sidekick? Doubts have been raised about primate's age, and acting credentials

The chimpanzee named Cheetah, who some claim was featured in Tarzan films of the 1930s starring Johnny Weissmuller, is shown in a publicity photo released Wednesday. The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary Foundation in Florida, where Cheetah spent his retirement days, said the chimp died on Dec. 24. They estimate he was 80 years old.

Cheetah, the chimpanzee who became famous at the side of Tarzan in the classic 1930s movies, has died at the age of 80 leaving several disputes unresolved.

Doubts were raised about the chimpanzee's extraordinary age and the authenticity of its silver screen career. Chimpanzees kept in captivity seldom live beyond the age of 45.

And previous animal trainers have falsely claimed that their chimps starred in the films with Johnny Weissmuller.

Eve Golden, a film historian at the Everett Collection, a Hollywood archive, said Wednesday: "There doesn't seem to be any verification that this particular chimp was ever really in any movies or television shows at all. I think it's just an urban legend.

"Unless they have the chimpanzee's acting union card it seems impossible to prove."

The greying primate retired in comfort at the Suncoast Sanctuary. A spokesman for the sanctuary claimed that the much loved primate died from kidney failure on Christmas Eve.

Staff at the American home in Palm Harbour, Fla., said the chimpanzee had enjoyed an enormous impact on children and adults alike "throughout his years." The spokesman said it was "with great sadness that the community has lost a dear friend and family member on December 24."

She said: "Cheetah, the star of the Tarzan films, passed away after kidney failure during the week of December 19."

Debbie Cobb, the director of the sanctuary, said the chimp had loved to finger paint and watch football as he grew older. Some of his artwork, dubbed "ap-stract" paintings, was sold to fans.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb said. "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."

Ron Priest, a volunteer at the sanctuary that has looked after Cheetah since the 1960s, said: "When he didn't like somebody or something that was going on, he would pick up some poop and throw it at them. He could get you at 30 feet with bars in between."

The Tarzan stories, based on the works of the author Edgar Rice Burroughs, chronicle the adventures of a man raised by apes in Africa. The films proved an instant hit from their outset in the 1930s right through to the 1960s.

Weissmuller, who died in 1984, aged 79, played the role of Tarzan, while Maureen O'Sullivan, who played Jane, died at the age of 87 in 1998. Alongside O'Sullivan, Cheetah quickly became an established co-star, often warning the vine-swinging Tarzan of lurking dangers and leaping to his rescue.

But there have long been doubts about the identity of the chimpanzee that played the role of Cheetah. According to film experts 10 chimps starred in the Tarzan movies.

In 2008, the American journalist Richard Rosen discovered that another chimpanzee, which was named Cheeta, was unlikely to have had any-thing to do with the films. The animal's owner, Tony Gentry, claimed that he smuggled the chimp out of Liberia aboard a PanAm flight in 1932.

He said he hid the newborn primate under his overcoat. His family has since agreed that there are doubts over the allegations. It was claimed Wednesday that Cheetah made his first appearance in Tarzan and His Mate in 1934, and later went on to appear in a dozen films about the jungle hero.

In 2005, after his retirement, he was awarded a Guinness world record for the oldest non-human primate. FOLLOW US!

Cheetah, The Chimpanzee that Starred in Tarzan Movies Dead at Age 80

Condolences poured in to a Florida primate sanctuary Wednesday after it announced the death of Cheetah, a chimpanzee that the sanctuary said starred in the Tarzan movies during the 1930s.

The chimpanzee died Saturday after suffering kidney failure the week before, the sanctuary foundation said on the site. He was roughly 80 years old, Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary's outreach director, told CNN affiliate WFLA.

Cobb recalled Cheetah as an outgoing chimp who loved finger painting and watching football and who was soothed by Christian music, the station said.

Several chimpanzees appeared in various Tarzan movies, many of which were popular in the 1930a and 1940s. The Florida primate sanctuary said its chimp appeared in the Tarzan moves from 1932 through 1934, according to WFLA.

According to the website, "Tarzan the Ape Man" was released in 1932 and "Tarzan and his Mate" in 1934. Both movies starred Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan. Weissmuller was the first speaking Tarzan, according to the Internet Movie Database website. He died in 1984.

Weissmuller appeared in Tarzan movies through 1948, according to the online movie guide site, with other chimpanzees appearing in the role of Cheetah.

Cheetah came to the primate sanctuary from Weissmuller's Florida estate around 1960, Cobb told WFLA. He was the most famous of the sanctuary's 15 chimpanzees.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb said. "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."

Cheetah was known for his ability to stand up and walk like a person, sanctuary volunteer Ron Priest told WFLA.

Another distinguishing characteristic: "When he didn't like somebody or something that was going on, he would pick up some poop and throw it at them," Priest said. "He could get you at 30 feet with bars in between."

Still, Cobb told the station, "He wasn't a chimp that caused a lot of problems."

Cheetah is not believed to have any children, Priest said.

His age was advanced for a chimpanzee, Cobb told WFLA. In the wild, the average chimp survives 25 to 35 years, she said, and they can live 35 to 45 years in zoos.

Another chimpanzee named Cheeta lives on a primate sanctuary in Southern California named C.H.E.E.T.A (Creative Habitats and Enrichment for Endangered and Threatened Apes). The sanctuary's creator, Dan Westfall, said on its web site that he was saddened to hear of Cheetah's passing in Florida. He said he and others at the sanctuary "send our deepest sympathies to our colleagues at Suncoast."

Westfall writes on the site that he was told Cheeta was one of the original chimps in the Tarzan movies during the 1930s and 1940s. However, when he began working with a writer on Cheeta's biography, research revealed "that our Cheeta is unlikely to be as old as we'd thought, although he is clearly old," Westfall wrote. "It is also difficult to determine which movies, if any, our Cheeta may have been in."

People from several countries offered condolences for Cheetah on the Florida sanctuary's site in several different languages. A few credited him with helping them develop a love for animals.

"Cheetah will remain forever remembered in history," someone in Malta wrote.

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan hold hands with Cheetah the chimpanzee in "Tarzan and His Mate."


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Michael Vick Can Own a Dog - After his “Supervised Release” Ends

This is a re-post written by, Mike Florio, "Daily Rumor Mill", who often writes stories based on tips he attributes to a network of sources.

It has been widely assumed that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick may never again own a dog as part of the sentence imposed on him after he pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to dogfighting and gambling.

The perception has been fueled in part by the comments from Vick himself, who seems to believe that he needs special permission from the judge who sent him to prison in order to ever purchase or own a dog.

“I don’t know when that day is going to come,” Vick said last year.  “It’s up to my judge at his discretion.”

More recently, Vick said that he “would love to have another dog in the future,” and that “if I ever have that opportunity again, I won’t take it for granted.”

As it turns out, he will have that opportunity again.

We tracked down (thanks to a reader who also is a lawyer) a copy of Vick’s sentencing order from December 10, 2007.  And while the document states that “[t]he defendant shall not engage in the purchase, possession, or sale of any canine,” that limitation appears as a condition of Vick’s supervised release, otherwise known as probation.

Vick was placed on three years of “supervised release,” which began to run after he was released from prison.  Thus, at some point in 2012, he’ll no longer be on supervised release, and he’ll be able to buy, own, and/or sell dogs.

Michael Vick on Dogfighting
Michael Vick's Dogs - Where Are They Now? FOLLOW US!

Man Donates Ton of Dog Food to Animal Shelter

A local resident delivered a surprise early Christmas present to the Humane Society of North Iowa last week.

“He told us that he’d like to make a donation of a ton of dog food. It just blew us away. We were overwhelmed. That’s two thousand pounds,” said Executive Director Sybil Soukup.

Garth Jordan of Osage, Iowa droped off fifty, forty-pound bags of dog food at the shelter last Thursday. The donation, valued at approximately $1000, will account for roughly half of the Humane Society’s annual food supply.

Like most non-profits, the Humane Society does not receive state or federal funding, and relies on donations in order to maintain operations.

“We have a lot of donors here in Mason City, corporations that do donate, but it’s just never enough. It seems like so this was really a great Christmas gift,” said shelter manager Tracy Hamand.

Jordan’s generosity will spare the shelter’s dogs from a common ailment: digestive upset caused by constant changes in diet.  Soukup says allowing the dogs to eat the same brand of food for six months will keep them healthier.

“When you switch brands it often causes digestive issues or can weaken an immune system for a dog and so by keeping them on the same diet for a long length of time it keeps them healthier. And it helps them gain weight if they’re needing to do that,” she said.

When asked why he was making such a generous donation, Jordan said he just wanted to do something kind in memory of one of his beloved former dogs. FOLLOW US!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cat Inherits $13 Million Fortune Including Cash, Properties in Rome and Milan

A 4-year-old stray cat that was rescued from the streets of Rome has inherited a $13 million fortune from its owner, the wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon.

Maria Assunta left the fortune to her beloved kitty, Tommaso when she died two weeks ago at the age of 94. The feline's newfound riches include cash, properties in Rome and Milan, and land in Calabria.

As her health began to fail two years ago, Assunta, who had no children, began to look for a way to see that Tommaso was properly cared for after she died.

Assunta first told her attorneys to leave her estate to an animal welfare association who would care for Tommaso. But when she was not satisfied with any suitable group to care for Tommaso, in 2009, Assunta decided to leave all her money to the cat via her nurse Stefania, who cared for her until she died.

Stefania said she had no idea Assunta was so wealthy.

"The old lady suffered from loneliness," the nurse said. "She looked after that cat more than you'd look after a son."

Tommaso and Stefania, along with another cat, are living outside Rome at an undisclosed address.

The windfall for Tommaso places him at No. 3 on the list of wealthy pets. He ranks behind Kalu the chimp, whose owner left him $80 million dollars, and a German shepherd named Gunther IV, who inherited $372 million dollars from an eccentric German countess.

Real estate magnate Leona Helmsley famously left $12 million to her little dog Trouble. After her human descendents contested, Trouble's pot was cut to $2 million.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Washington, DC - Animals Paint Adorable Pictures

Sans berets, smocks or palettes, the animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are getting their paws dirty with non-toxic, water-based paint and creating one-of-a-kind works of art. Painting is one among many activities that fall under Animal Enrichment—a program that provides physically and mentally stimulating activities and environments for the Zoo’s residents. The animals have the opportunity not only to choose how to behave, but also to use their natural abilities and behaviors in new and exciting ways.

Enrichment is an integral part of the daily care of the species in the Zoo’s collection. Keepers and curators carefully study animal behavior and determine what kinds of enrichment are appropriate for each species and, occasionally, individual animals. Keepers have a number of novel options for enrichment. They may alter an exhibit; train an animal; introduce new smells, sounds, foods, and objects; or enlist an animal in a research project, such as a study about foraging skills or cognitive research. Adding a variety of engaging activities helps keepers ensure the Zoo’s animals have a high quality of life.
Though the subjects of the animals’ paintings remain mysterious, the ways visitors can support the Zoo’s enrichment program are as clear as a starry, starry night. Drop off any size canvas, art paper, paint brush or non-toxic, water-based paint at the Visitor Center for the animal care staff to distribute. Animal keepers are collecting gifts for the animals this holiday season. Browse the list of needed items on the Enrichment Giving Tree section of the Zoo’s website or the Enrichment page of the Zoo’s online store.

Art produced by many of the Zoo’s mammal and bird residents will be available for purchase at the National Capital chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Art Show, which will take place spring 2012.
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