Bubbles The Chimp – Where Is He Now?

Years after donning matching Western outfits with Michael Jackson and even learning how to moonwalk, The King of Pop’s famous chimpanzee Bubbles now spends his days in a Florida primate sanctuary.

People magazine recently spoke to Center For Great Apes sanctuary director Patti Ragan to find out what Bubbles has been up to.

Jackson’s beloved pet was born in 1983 in a biomedical laboratory and then sold to a Hollywood trainer as an infant. After being adopted by Jackson he appeared in TV shows, movies and music videos. Five-year-old Bubbles even accompanied Jackson on a promotional tour to Japan, sitting in on interviews and showing off his fancy footwork while moonwalking for the press.

Photo: AP Photo
The sculpture "Michael Jackson and Bubbles," by artist Jeff Koons, is shown on display in the chateau de Versailles in Versailles, France.

Bubbles “retired” from showbiz at age six or seven and after growing from a small, adorable pet into a full-grown chimp, he moved out of the public eye and into an animal compound along with an older chimp named Sam. Bubbles and his buddy Sam, now 40, relocated to the Center For Great Apes sanctuary in Wauchula, Fla., in 2005.

“The two of them like to climb up to the top of a cupola [located on the sanctuary grounds] and just sit there, staring out over the orange groves, watching the traffic in the distance. He loves being up there,” Ragan told People about the now 160-pound chimp.

The sanctuary includes over 100 acres and is home to 42 chimpanzees and orangutans.

Bubbles’ profile on the Center for Great Apes website describes his personality as smart, distinctive and tender. He is gentle with the young chimps, especially an infant named Bobby-Styker. Along with Sam and Bobby-Styker, Bubbles lives with four other chimps named Oopsie, Boma, Jessie and Kodua. People noted Bubbles loves eating sweet potatoes, listening to flute-and-guitar music and painting.

Ragan said Bubbles hasn’t been told about Jackson’s shocking death last Thursday, explaining, “We haven’t said anything to him yet.”

For fans planning to make the trek to Neverland Ranch to pay tribute to Jackson, unfortunately a trip to head across the country and say hello to Bubbles isn’t possible because the sanctuary is closed to the public.

Well, unless you become yearly members or supporters. The Center For Great Apes website says that for a donation of $150 you will receive “an adoption certificate, frame quality photograph with biography, and become a member of the sanctuary for one year.” Or you could donate $10,000 and become Bubbles exclusive adoptive “parent” for a year – and get the chance to stay overnight in a guest cabin on sanctuary grounds.

Ragan said Bubbles’ care is financed solely from public donations. Hopefully a more recent Jackson will turns up that stipulates the pop icon left a little something for Bubbles. (A 2002 will has surfaced with reports indicating it provides financially for Jackson’s mother, MJ’s children and a number of charities.) Bubbles will need donations for many years as he could live to the age of 60.

Click here for the Center For Great Apes website.

Click here for the People article.