Bubbles

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Bubbles was born in a Texas biomedical laboratory. While still an infant, he was taken from his mother and sold to a Hollywood trainer, who had purchased him to be a pet chimpanzee for the world-famous pop singer Michael Jackson. In such a bright limelight, it's no surprise that Bubbles soon gained fame—and many adoring fans—of his own. He appeared in television shows, movies, and music videos. When he was only four years old, he went to Japan on a promotional tour with Jackson.

A couple of years later, when Bubbles grew too strong to be around people, he was "retired" from show biz and sent to the trainer's California animal compound in the company of an older chimpanzee named Sam. Both Bubbles and Sam arrived at the Center for Great Apes in March 2005 with a large group of chimpanzees, all from the entertainment world.

Though Jackson bought at least two more pet chimpanzees—Max and Action Jackson (A.J.)—after Bubbles was retired, the public thought that the star still had the original "infant Bubbles" during that time. A number of photos of Michael with either Max or A.J. are all titled "Bubbles." The names of his two other chimpanzees were never made public. One of them was eventually sold to a zoo in Korea; the other was shipped to a breeding farm in Kansas.

Jackson always maintained ownership of Bubbles, his first and favorite chimpanzee, whom he treated like a son. However, Michael did not include Bubbles in his will, as some erroneous news stories have claimed. As a result, we must continually raise funds from our supporters to provide care for Bubbles.

As a 185-pound, 4½-foot adult male, Bubbles is now the dominant male in a group of chimpanzees that includes his best friend, Ripley, adult females Oopsie, Boma, Jessie, and Kodua, and the juvenile Stryker.

  • Bubbles was born in 1983
  • Bubbles does not like cameras.  Even when his caregivers try to take a photo, he will turn his back if he sees a camera.  He occasionally will spit water at people when annoyed about cameras and is able to throw sand with amazing accuracy. However, he is extremely gentle with the youngsters, especially Stryker. In fact, when Stryker was a baby, he could often be seen riding around on Bubbles’ back.
  • Balancing out those defensive moments is Bubbles' soft and sweet side. He treats all the young chimpanzees at the Center, especially Stryker, with amazing gentleness and affection. When Stryker was a baby, we often saw him riding around on a happy Bubbles' back.   
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