Whatever Happened to Michael Jackson’s Chimp, Bubbles?

Michael Jackson and Bubbles Jacko Chimp Ape Monkey King of Pop

Nobody ever asks about Bubbles, though maybe they should. As much as the world continues to debate Michael Jackson following his passing in 2009, do people realize that his trusted companion Bubbles is still alive and well?

Adopted in 1983

Bubbles was Jackson's pet chimpanzee, adopted in 1983 when Bubbles was still an infant in diapers. Over the years, the ape has been part of much speculation regarding his owner's erratic behavior, obsessions, and occasionally questionable decorum.

Where Is He Now?

However, poor Bubbles was a passenger in this soap opera; meanwhile, Jackson's fans worldwide always had a soft spot for the world's most famous chimp. So, where is Bubbles today, and how has life gone for the most pampered chimp in America?

Leaving Neverland

He recently celebrated his 40th birthday at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, where he has spent the last twenty years. In 2003, Bubbles had to move from Neverland at age 20 due to his size and inherent strength, which would have presented a danger to Jackson's children.

Dark Accusations

Jackson's relationship with his pet primate has seen controversy, with some witnesses claiming Jackson abused him. Even world-famous ape expert Dr. Jane Goodall accused the King of Pop of punching and kicking the chimp — a claim reinforced by La Toya Jackson's ex-husband, Jack Gordon.

Tabloid Attacks

However, Jackson denied all the claims and sent Bubbles to live with a Californian trainer before he retired to the Floridian ape sanctuary. There was another British tabloid attack in 2009 following Jackson's death aged 51 when they claimed Bubbles attempted to take his own life after hearing the news.

A Moonwalking Chimp

This absurd story only adds to the mystery surrounding Jackson's animal, who has been enjoying his freedom and peace for two decades. Some reports from the late ‘80s even claimed Jackson taught the chimp to moonwalk — there is no evidence of this — and that Bubbles had his own bodyguard.

An Unwanted Guest

One of the funniest Jackson-Bubbles dynamics was the star's insistence the primate sit in on his recording sessions. Consequently, Bubbles was present for the entire recording of Bad. However, Freddie Mercury famously lost his temper at Jackson over Bubbles when recording a duet, stating how he couldn't perform with a chimp next to him.

Happy 40, Bubbles

After such a tumultuous life following the most famous person alive everywhere, Bubbles had a simple bubbles-themed 40th birthday party with his other ape colleagues at the shelter. The center's staff made him a healthy, ape-friendly birthday cake frosted with mashed banana to enjoy with his retirement buddies. Other apes present included Ripley the chimp, who starred in the TV comedy Seinfeld, and Popi, the orangutan who appeared in the movie Going Ape.

A Forgotten Family Member

However, no Jackson family members attended the celebration — his three children were born after Bubbles moved away. Sadly, the last family member to visit was LaToya in 2010, when she helped film the British Channel Four documentary Michael Jackson and Bubbles.

The Chimp Is Doing Alright

According to staff, Bubbles seemed happy with his get-together, inspecting the staff members who showed up to watch and enjoying their company. The Michael Jackson fan club We Are The World contributed with a custom-made Bubbles blanket decorated with photos of the famous ape. It appears that Bubbles is doing well in his retirement. 

Source: NY Post. 

Author: Ben Rice

Title: Trending Topics, News, Features.

Expertise: Lifestyle, Travel, Music, Film.


Raised in England and with a career background in international education, Ben now lives in Southern Spain with his wife and son, having lived on three continents, including Africa, Asia, and North America. He has worked diverse jobs ranging from traveling film projectionist to landscape gardener.

He offers a unique, well-traveled perspective on life, with several specialties related to his travels. Ben loves writing about food, music, parenting, education, culture, and film, among many other topics. His passion is Gen-X geekery, namely movies, music, and television.

He has spent the last few years building his writing portfolio, starting as a short fiction author for a Hong Kong publisher, then moving into freelance articles and features, with bylines for various online publications, such as Wealth of Geeks, Fansided, and Detour Magazine.