Smart, Distinctive, Tender My Birthday
Born 1983 in Austin, Texas
Bubbles was born in a 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. While there, he sat in on interviews with Jackson and "moonwalked" for the press. 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. Bubbles is the only great ape at our sanctuary who is not owned now by the Center, as the estate of Michael Jackson still claims ownership. (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 165-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 the juveniles Kodua & Bobby-Stryker.
Bubbles has a broad, handsome face and a lot of charisma. Though he is able to throw sand with amazing accuracy, he is extremely gentle with the youngsters, especially Stryker. In fact, when he was younger, baby Stryker, 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. When Bubbles first arrived, he would not climb up to the top of his 40-foot tall habitat. He appeared to be nervous about the height and would sit on the ground and stare up at the others in his group while they played high up in the cupola. Then one day, after he had been at the sanctuary for about 5 months, he suddenly climbed up to the top and gave a loud chimp call. Now it’s one of his favorite places, and he goes to the top to play several times a day.
At night, Bubbles’ group is given access to four rooms in the indoor nighthouse as well as the chute system and large outdoor habitat. On very nice nights, he may choose to make his nest outside at the top of the dome….but usually he likes to sleep in the same indoor room each night with his best friend, Ripley.