The whereabouts of some of the King of Pop’s exotic menagerie are known, while others seem to have vanished.
Celebrities are known for their shenanigans, which does not exclude purchasing dangerous exotic pets. Michael Jackson took things a bit far with his own private zoo, personal pets that included tigers and snakes and the occasional chimp, oh my!
Jackson housed the animals at his Neverland property. After his 2005 child abuse sex scandal, the musical artist never showed up at the private zoo again. But the pets still had to be cared for. Allegedly, the King of Pop gave his approval for the final whereabouts of all of his pets, arrangements which were made by the pets’ vet, Martin Dinnes.
Whatever happened to Michael Jackson’s exotic menagerie?
Bubbles the Chimpanzee
Bubbles the chimp was MJ’s most famous pet, renowned for traveling the globe hand-in-hand with the pop star and often dressed like his twin. Purchased from a Texas research facility in the 1980s, Bubbles is living out his days as an alpha male at the Center for Great Apes (CFGA), a primate sanctuary in Florida.
Contrary to popular belief, Bubbles was not included in Jackson’s will, though the singer did refer to his pet as his son on numerous occasions. Strangely, the animal that grew up around paparazzi has an aversion to cameras, according to the CFGA.
The chimpanzee was actually retired in 2005, four years before MJ’s tragic end. Two other chimps, Max and A.J., stood in for Bubbles, unbeknownst to the public. One of these apes is in a Korean zoo while the other went to a Kansas breeding facility.
Rounding out the primates, Jackson’s two orangutans were often photographed with their owner, but their whereabouts after his death remain unknown.
Tigers Thriller and Sabu
Brother big cats Thriller and Sabu were sent to Shambala Preserve, a California sanctuary outside Los Angeles. The rescue center is run by celebrity Tippi Hedren, who debuted in “The Birds.” Hedren built an elaborate and extensive enclosure for the two, but Thriller succumbed to lung cancer in June 2012.
Hedren, former actress and model turned animal rights activist, lamented that the Jackson family never checked in on the tigers. Hedren is known for voicing her belief that wild animals should not be kept as pets.
Four giraffes roamed Neverland. Prior to MJ’s passing, the long-necked herbivores relocated to Arizona in 2007 to Banjoko Wildlife Preserve, also called Voices of the Wild Foundation. The center was opened by two well-intentioned retired folk whose hearts may have been bigger than their animal welfare skills.
In 2009, just weeks apart, two of the giraffes died unexpectedly, sparking controversy with animal rights activists declaring an investigation, one that does not seem to have occurred. The remaining two mammals were transferred to a sanctuary in Utah.
Rikki the Parrot
Amazon parrot Rikki was given favoritism by his owner, a cohabitant in Jackson’s mansion instead of squawking in the separated aviary. Rikki joined the giraffes at Banjoko Wildlife Preserve along with other birds and snakes.
Gypsy the Elephant
Five-thousand-pound Asian elephant Gypsy was a gift to Jackson from actress Elizabeth Taylor. The elephant present was Taylor’s way of showing appreciation to Jackson for allowing her wedding to take place at his Neverland ranch.
Surprisingly, the location of this gentle gray giant are not known.
Jackson posed with his bulldog Large for many photo shoots. Large and other canines Spanky, Black Girl, Shadow, and Sasha have gone MIA.
Like Jackson’s pooches, llamas Louie and Lola and lovable ram Mr. Tibbs have disappeared from the public eye.
The majority of Jackson’s scaly pets found refuge at the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Foundation in Oklahoma. Most famous of Jackson’s reptiles was an 18-foot albino python named Madonna and a boa constrictor named Muscles.
While Madonna resides in Oklahoma, the whereabouts of Muscles remain unknown. Two alligators also made the trip to Oklahoma.
Over a dozen Chilean flamingos owned by MJ were moved to Cape May County Zoo in New Jersey, where they spend their summers outside in the Flamingo Yard and their winters inside the World of Birds Aviary. Chilean flamingos are the smallest species of the pink-plumaged birds.
Michael Jackson made a lasting impression on pop culture, but he is also remembered in history for his quirks, which included a household of exotic pets.
He wasn’t alone in his money-spending habits when it came to his furry, feathered and scaly family. Across the globe, owners pour savings into pampering their pets. But Jackson certainly was unique in the pets he homed.
What do you think of MJ’s menagerie? Let us know in the comments below!
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