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Michael Jackson's Bubbles: From 'Huge and Ugly' to 'Alpha' Ape at Sanctuary

Michael Jackson's pet chimpanzee Bubbles, who now lives in a retirement home, continues to be cared for by Jackson's estate.

In the realm of primates, none have achieved the level of fame and recognition as Michael Jackson's cherished pet chimpanzee, Bubbles. This audacious chimp has captivated the world with his presence, even long after Jackson's untimely death 14 years ago. Despite the passage of time, Bubbles continues to live a relatively quiet life in his retirement, thanks to the ongoing financial support from Jackson's estate. The cost of his care is nothing short of staggering, amounting to a jaw-dropping $25,000 (£19.8k) per year.

Now 40 years old, Bubbles resides at the Centre for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida. This sanctuary provides a 100-acre space for Bubbles and his fellow primate companions, including Oopsie, Murray, Mowgli, and Bo, to roam freely. The staff at the sanctuary describe Bubbles as "huge and ugly," but they also note his endearing and "sweet character." As the alpha of the group, Bubbles has a mischievous side, often spitting water or throwing sand at strangers to elicit a reaction.

Recently, Bubbles celebrated his 40th birthday, and the sanctuary adorned his living space with festive decorations. Despite his camera-shyness, Bubbles even managed to take a selfie to commemorate the occasion. The sanctuary shared their joy on Instagram, stating, "The girls were focused on the food treats, but Bubbles was more interested in greeting visitors and looking at all the decorations."

Bubbles' current tranquil existence is a far cry from the extravagant life he led alongside Jackson. Born in 1983 in a research center in Austin, Texas, Bubbles was brought into Jackson's home at a tender age for the princely sum of $65,000 (£56k). The bond between Jackson and Bubbles quickly solidified, and they became inseparable companions, dancing and entertaining audiences worldwide.

Bubbles was no ordinary chimp; he embarked on private jet journeys, made appearances on television in human attire, and even had his own agent and bodyguard. His presence, however, did not always please everyone. Queen's Freddie Mercury, for instance, grew irritated when Bubbles positioned himself between Mercury and Jackson during a recording session. "I'm not performing with a f***ing chimp sitting next to me each night," Mercury reportedly exclaimed, leading to the abandonment of their planned duet.

In their downtime, Bubbles and Jackson indulged in sweet treats, watched movies, dined together at the table, and even shared sleeping quarters. Despite his generally well-behaved nature, Bubbles occasionally engaged in mischievous behavior, including flinging his feces around Jackson's mansion.

As Bubbles reached adulthood, weighing a staggering 75kg at the age of 20, he became too large and aggressive for Jackson to handle. Consequently, Bubbles' high-octane lifestyle came to an abrupt halt, and he was relocated to a ranch in California under the care of Bob Dunn. "Bubbles is an adult chimp and a wild animal... We don't let him out to play," Dunn explained to CNN.

Some individuals even alleged mistreatment during Bubbles' time with Jackson. Dame Jane Goodall, the world's leading primatologist, claimed that Bubbles had endured physical abuse while under Jackson's care. Nevertheless, Bubbles remains alive and well, captivating all who come into contact with him with his undeniable beauty.

In conclusion, Bubbles stands as a testament to the extraordinary bond between humans and animals. His journey from a research center in Texas to the side of the King of Pop himself is a tale that continues to fascinate and intrigue. Though his life may have taken a quieter turn in retirement, Bubbles' legacy as the most famous primate to have ever walked the planet remains intact.

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