Life with BubblesPosted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF's Director of Communications on July 9th, 2009
In the media frenzy surrounding all things Michael Jackson over the past two weeks, it comes as no surprise that, after endless interviews with Quincy Jones, Lisa Marie Presley, Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor, and pretty much anyone who might have some insight into the man behind the icon, we’d also be hearing from one of the King of Pop’s closest associates—Bubbles, the chimpanzee. Bubbles lived with the singer for a number of years, until he became too aggressive (as mature chimpanzees inevitably do) and went to live at Florida’s Center for Great Apes sanctuary.
Most “retired” chimpanzees are not so lucky. Too strong and aggressive to continue to be forced to perform or to live with human families once they reach maturity, many are destined for pathetic roadside zoos. Tragically, there are also too many stories of chimpanzees—wild animals, we must be reminded—who are killed after attacking members of their human “families.”
As a child of privilege (assuming we can ignore that fact that he was taken away from his own chimpanzee family as a baby) Bubbles eventually made it to his sanctuary home where he can live among his own kind and engage in behaviors that are natural to chimpanzees. And he has a neighbor at the Center for Great Apes who is very close to our hearts here at the Animal Legal Defense Fund—Angel, one of the chimpanzees rescued from animal trainer Sid Yost in our lawsuit ALDF v. Yost. (Yost denies the allegations; Statement of Settlement.) After ALDF was awarded custody of Yost’s chimpanzees, we were able to reunite Angel with her biological mother, who was already living at the Florida sanctuary.
Jackson’s life was a story of brilliant talent and unprecedented fame that ended tragically. His former “pet” Bubbles, in the company of ALDF’s dear Angel, is given the opportunity to do what Jackson never could—retire away from the unnatural pressures of the limelight, in a tree- and toy-filled Neverland of his own. The crucial work of sanctuaries like the Center for Great Apes, Save the Chimps, and Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest ensure that chimpanzees rescued in cases like ALDF v. Yost or otherwise given a second chance at life can finally know that same peace and contentment, the most troubled parts of their lives now behind them.