Adopt Bubbles the Chimp for $150 a Year
(June 28) -- When Michael Jackson died last year, his will made provisions for his kids, his mom and pet charities, but what about his pet chimp, Bubbles?
It has never been revealed whether Jackson left Bubbles a few bucks for bananas, but it doesn't look good because the animal sanctuary where he has spent the past five years is asking people to adopt the 26-year-old chimp for $150.
Jackson's furry friend lives at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla., where he is second in command of a group of seven chimps, according to sanctuary founder Patti Ragan.
Bubbles' main pal is a 19-year-old male chimp, but his life is a long way from the 1980s when he was the top banana of celebrity animals.
Still, since chimps live more than half a century, Ragan says it's an appropriate place for him.
But anyone who has had to put a loved one -- human or animal -- in a home of some kind, knows assisted living ain't cheap. In fact, it costs $15,000 a year to keep Bubbles, well, bubbly.
"Bubbles and the other chimps need food, veterinary care, heat in the winter, as well as enrichment materials, such as structures, toys and puzzles," Ragan says.
So she hopes Jacko's fans will peel off a few simoleons and send them Bubbles' way.
For $150 a year, Bubbles' buddies can adopt him and, in return, will get an 8-by-10 photo of the famous ape, and a chance to see him up close and personal one day a year at the sanctuary's annual open house.
"We're not open to the public," Ragan said. "We're not a zoo."
The Center for Great Apes is something more -- it's like a combination of a primate playground and a retirement facility for celebrities famous for monkeying around. Besides Bubbles, the sanctuary is home to Bella, one of the chimps from the 2004 commercial that Career Builder ran during the Super Bowl, as well as Sam, the star of the 1996 Jason Alexander classic, "Dunston Checks In."
Ragan, who founded the sanctuary in 2004, says chimps only work in animal entertainment until the age of 6. After that, they get too big and strong.
"Chimps live to be 60 years of age, so that's a long time to be taken care of," Ragan said. "Zoos can't take animals like Bubbles because they were raised by humans and don't know chimpanzee rules."
Sources say Bubbles was born in the early 1980s at a Texas research facility that bred primates for animal testing.
Jackson reportedly bought Bubbles with the help of Bob Dunn, who supplies animals and trainers for Hollywood films.
In the 1980s, Bubbles experienced things that few humans and chimps experience: He went to parties at Elizabeth Taylor's house; he had tea with the mayor of Osaka, Japan; and Kenny Rogers took a portrait of him and Jackson.
After Bubbles got too big to keep as a pet, he went back to Dunn's ranch, where Jackson and his kids would visit him.