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Monkey Made Famous By TikTok Videos Dies Unexpectedly

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Let's take a moment to remember a monkey who touched the hearts of children and grown-ups alike during the pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

WILL: Are you looking in the oven? A whoopee cushion. George, you got a gift. What's in there?

FADEL: That's Georgie Boy, a 12-year-old capuchin monkey from Texas who became a social media star, along with his owner. Their TikTok account had nearly 17 million followers who loved to watch Georgie Boy open gifts sent to him by his many adoring fans. Here's an example.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

WILL: It's from Miss Carol (ph) and Mr. Zegers (ph) third-grade class. (Reading) Thank you for creating such amazing videos. We enjoy starting our school day off with watching what package you'll open next. Aw.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Steven Zegers is a teacher at Elm Tree Elementary in Corona, N.Y., where watching George became part of the morning routine.

STEVE ZEGERS: He was part of our class. You know, we'd watch these videos every day, and it's just a little smile at the beginning of the day.

INSKEEP: Which helped his students get through the pandemic.

ZEGERS: We have a class where people have suffered loss in their families. People suffered loss due to coronavirus. And we had this one little moment where we could just let them see something happy and let them cheer up and get the day started in the right way. So it was very important.

FADEL: But last week, they got devastating news. The little monkey died after a routine trip to the vet due to complications from anesthesia. His owners announced it in a heartfelt video.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

WILL: Thank you for all of the kind words and thoughts and prayers that we've received. We love y'all. George loved y'all.

FADEL: George's family says they still have many videos to share and will continue to spread his smile and joy with his millions of fans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.