The chimp is now 34-years-old and greying. He spends his time painting in a Florida retirement sanctuary.
It has been 30 years since Bubbles was abandoned by the 'King of Pop'. He now is said to be living a peaceful and quiet life, away from screaming fans and flashing cameras. The talented chimpanzee was not just famous for being Michael Jackson's pet once upon a time but also because he could paint. The chimpanzee recently sold five paintings for £3k. He spends his days relaxing and painting in a retirement sanctuary based in Florida. It has been eight years since Michael Jackson passed away. Bubbles was first introduced to the world when he was featured in a single called Leave Me Alone in 1987. The singer then decided to keep the chimpanzee. However, a few years later, he gave Bubbles away to the Wachula Centre for Apes. Reportedly, the singer never gave a single penny for the well being of the chimp after giving him away. The chimp is now 34-years-old and is living the most relaxed life he possibly could.
Bubbles wakes up every morning and takes a leisurely stroll around his grounds with companions who have absolutely no clue that he used to be a superstar at one point. The chimp now has a greying beard and a bald spot above his brow. How does he spend his time? Painting. Back in 2017, five abstract art pieces made by an artist called Bubbles sold for almost £3,000 at an art gallery in Miami. Most people were shocked when they found out that the artist behind the paintings was none other than Michael Jackson's long-abandoned chimp, Bubbles. Contrary to rumors, the ape wasn’t long dead or preserved in formaldehyde by a German doctor.
It has been around three decades since Bubble was abandoned by the singer. They were pretty much inseparable when they were together. Well, those days of stardom are long behind him. Gone are the days where people asked him to do the moonwalk or the backward shuffle. The days of private bathrooms and glamorous outfits. Bubbles moved out in 2005 to his current home, the Centre for Great Apes, a private sanctuary in Wauchula, a remote, heavily forested corner of Florida. After he was abandoned by the singer, there was not a single time that the singer visited the chimp or sent anything for the chimp, even money for his upkeep.
Admittedly, the late singer’s estate now sends some money every year and his fans post occasional gifts such as blankets emblazoned with Jackson’s face. As reported by the Daily Mail, Patti Ragan, the sanctuary’s founder, said that Bubbles is now just a normal chimp. She said, "He loves to paint but, more than that, he loves to play with the other chimps. He particularly loves water — he adores playing with the hose or with the sprinklers in summer." He apparently likes to take mouthfuls of water and spit on visitors once in a while, so yeah, he's living the life of a normal ape now.
Bubbles is part of a group of seven chimps - three males and four females. He is said to be the most dominant of them all. His best friend, Ripley, grooms Bubbles' fur is his ally whenever squabbles break out. With Jackson, he was always given first class treatment. Now, he sleeps with the group in an eight-room night house on blankets, pine needles, and hay. Their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and protein biscuits. He said goodbye to wearing pajamas, eating Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and having a nanny to put him to bed every night a long time ago.
Bubbles the chimp now painting. He was Michael Jackson's buddy. better than me I bet. pic.twitter.com/n6z7IlWatt— Ron Olson (@RonOlsonMemphis) July 6, 2017
Bubbles will be spending the rest of his years among this group of former circus and entertainment industry chimps and orangutans. The sanctuary does not plan to release any of them into the wild as they wouldn't survive. The reason being that these apes have spent most of their lives in captivity and do not remember what it was like to be free in the wild. Bubbles is expected to live for many more years. He is described as "brawny but tender" by Ragan. He has pretty much forgotten about his life as a superstar. The only thing that remains is his intense dislike of being photographed. If he’s really displeased, he will throw sand at anyone with a camera.
Bubbles was born in 1983 at a bio-medical laboratory in Texas, he was sold at eight months to Jackson, who had him trained by renowned Hollywood ape trainer Bob Dunn. The singer was then at the peak of his fame and was just 24 years old. He moved Bubbles in with him at the Jackson family compound in Encino, California. People believed that the singer, who had a very troubled childhood, turned to animals (like Bubbles) for companionship, comfort, and unconditional love. However, chimps grow up fast and soon it had become difficult for the singer to hang out with Bubbles and take care of him.
Animal experts were sought for advice and Michael’s sister La Toya said they were shocked and disappointed by the way Bubbles was treated. He got fortunate as he was then shifted into the care of Dunn. Initially, the singer used to request to meet the chimp occasionally and was allowed to. However, it was too dangerous to have Bubbles around children and so Jackson had to stop inviting him over. A few years later, his trainer decided to hand him to Patti Ragan, as the most famous resident at her Florida sanctuary. The chimp has become a part of a family again. The shy chimp was taught how to socialize and greet and groom others. He took some time but eventually became friendly with the rest of the apes. He now lives a happy and relaxed normal life with his ape family.