Bubbles was born in a Texas biomedical laboratory, but taken from his mother and sold to a Hollywood trainer while still an infant. He was purchased for Michael Jackson and soon gained fame as Jackson's pet chimpanzee. He appeared in television shows, movies, and music videos before he was “retired” at age 6 or 7. When Bubbles was only 4 years old, he toured Japan in a promotional tour with Michael Jackson.   But, as he grew too strong to be around people, he lived most of his life at 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.

Michael Jackson bought at least two more pet chimpanzees after Bubbles was retired, and their names were Max and Action Jackson (A.J.), but the public thought that he still had the original “infant Bubbles” for those additional years. There are a number of photos of Michael with one of the other later chimpanzees, but all titled “Bubbles”. The names of those other chimpanzees were not made public, and one was eventually sold to a zoo in Korea and the other sent to a breeding farm in Kansas. However, Michael always maintained ownership of Bubbles as he was his first and favorite chimpanzee, and he considered him as his son.  However, Michael did not include Bubbles in his will as some erroneous news stories have claimed, and the Center still must raise funds from our supporters to provide care for Bubbles.

As a 185-pound adult male, and about 4 ½ feet tall, Bubbles now is the dominant male in a group of chimpanzees at the sanctuary including his best friend Ripley, the 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.
  • Bubbles can be sensitive and dramatic. If he has any kind of cut or scratch on his body…no matter how small… he will show it many times during the day to his caregivers and ask for sympathy.  
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