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NY Post
New York Post
29 Apr 2023

NextImg:Michael Jackson’s pet chimp Bubbles turned 40 with a party fit for pet royalty

His birthday bash was a real thriller!

Bubbles, Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee, turned 40 and celebrated with a party befitting the King of Pop’s pet.


“He did get a cake — but it’s a special ape-healthy cake,” said Patti Ragan, founding director at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla., the “retirement home” where Bubbles has lived since 2005.

“We frost it with mashed bananas and add a little bit of blue food coloring … and then we wrote his name in blueberries,” Ragan said.

The theme, fittingly, was bubbles.

“We had tubs of bubble bath. They had paper bubbles everywhere,” she added.


And Bubbles was a gracious host.

“He just wanted to see who was visiting,” she said. “He came and looked at all the staff that had come to be there for the party.”

The “We Are The World” fan club gifted Bubbles a photo blanket with his pictures on it.

Jackson, who died in 2009 at 50, bought the chimp as an infant in 1983 from a Texas research facility.


The theme of the birthday bash was bubbles.

The pampered primate lived in Neverland Ranch and slept in a crib in Jackson’s bedroom

By 2003, Bubbles was too large — and therefore unsuitable as a pet, so he was moved into the California ranch owned by trainer Bob Dunn.

“When he became too big to be around people, maybe about 6 or 7 years old, Michael Jackson’s trainer had him with his other chimps,” Ragan explained.


Bubbles now stands at just under 5 feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds, according to Ragan.

bubbles michael jackson's pet chimpanzee

The late singer, who died in 2009, bought the chimp as an infant in 1983.

Staff at the ape sanctuary entertain Bubbles and all their primate residents with DVDs of Jackson.

“If he saw Michael Jackson [in person], of course, he’d remember him and go crazy in greeting him,” she added.

When Jackson’s sister, LaToya, came to the center to film the 2010 documentary “Michael Jackson and Bubbles,” Bubbles knew she was a member of his famous family.

“He clearly remembered her. He could not stop staring at her,” she said. “She and I sat outside the mesh enclosure and he came and sat right next to us. She looks like Michael very much and she sounds like Michael, with that very soft voice.”

Bubbles had another visitor a few weeks ago, Jackson’s attorney John Branca, who asked the star to be the best man at his wedding.


“This was his second time to visit Bubbles and Bubbles sat with him for a while,” she said.

Jackson’s three children, Prince, 26, Paris, 25, and Bigi (formerly known as Blanket), 21, have never stopped by to see their father’s fur baby.

“I don’t know that they even know he’s here, frankly, because they were all born after Bubbles moved. . . . They’re welcome to visit.”

The Center for Great Apes houses 27 orangutans and 43 chimps, the eldest one around 64 years old. Chimps in the wild have an average lifespan of just 15 years but some have lived as long as 60 years.


bubbles michael jackson's pet chimpanzee

Michael Jackson with Bubbles and a bulldog.

Michael Jackson poses with 14-year-old fan Donna Ashlock and his pet chimpanzee Bubbles at the Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California, 8th March 1986.

Michael Jackson poses with 14-year-old fan Donna Ashlock and his pet chimpanzee Bubbles at the Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California, 8th March 1986.
Popperfoto via Getty Images

The sanctuary’s other notable primates include: Ripley the chimp, who acted in “Seinfeld” alongside Michael Richards’ Kramer; and Popi the orangutan from the 1981 film “Going Ape!” with Danny DeVito and Tony Danza. Other inhabitants starred in 2001’s “Planet of the Apes” alongside Mark Wahlberg.

Ragan made it a point to dispel falsehoods she’s read about Bubbles, including that he once tried to commit suicide.


“That is ludicrous. I’ve never seen him depressed,” she said. “We’ve had him 18 years now. He’s been a very sweet and gentle chimp.”

Bubbles, famous for being Michael Jacksonâs pet will celebrate his 40th birthday.

Jackson’s sister LaToya and lawyer John Branca have visited Bubbles at the center.

Another rumor she said is unfounded is that Bubbles is the richest chimp in the world because he was left $2 million dollars in Jackson’s will.

“That’s not true at all. Michael’s estate helps us towards the annual care for Bubbles, but there was nothing in the will,” she noted.


It takes close to $30,000 per year to maintain each ape at the sanctuary and they rely on online donations and membership.

She also took issue with tabloid representations that the graybeard chimp is “ugly.”

“That’s not true at all,” she said. “He’s adorable.”