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CHEETA SPEAKS

He's outlived them all. Tarzan. Trigger. Ronald Reagan. Now, retired in Palm Springs, the world's oldest chimp gets some stuff off his chest.

April 22, 2007|By J.R. Moehringer

There's a wrenching morning ahead. Westfall will call to me and I won't appear. He'll find me curled on my blanket, cartoons blaring, and for once I'll be perfectly still. Westfall will then have to pick out the ultimate Travel Box for me to make my last journey.

The reporter asks Westfall if he worries about that day.

Yes, he says he thinks about it, but he doesn't worry, because he tries to focus on how much joy I've brought people around the world.

He says people around the world, but he means himself.

Language. It's a tricky business. On the whole, I'm glad I've never had to deal with it.

The reporter shuts his notebook. He thanks Westfall, waves to me. He looks glum. Maybe he suddenly understands that love is love, whatever form it takes, and the end of love, the prospect of the desolation that follows in its absence, is a hard thing to think about, for any primate.

See you, bud. Drive safe.

And for Darwin's sake, cheer up.

Look at his face. Solemn. Thoughtful. As if he sees the cosmos and his place in it a little differently after meeting me.

Hey, I have that effect on people.

What can I say?

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