Michael Jackson's Animals: Where Are They Now?

Tracking down the King of Pop's reptiles, birds, big cats—and Bubbles the chimp

By Joal Ryan Jun 27, 2009 8:44 PMTags
Michael Jackson, Bubbles, TigersAP Photo

By zoo animal standards, they were pretty famous: the reptiles, birds, primates and more that comprised Michael Jackson's Neverland menagerie.

Over the years, they've scattered—gone their separate ways, especially after Jackson's fantasyland dream all but ended with a police raid at the California ranch in 2003.

While Jackson's sudden death raised a swirl of yet-to-be answered questions, the custodial care of his animals was not one of them.

So where are Jackson's former charges now? And have they been informed of the pop icon's passing?

Here's an accounting of the major critters:

• Thriller and Sabu, tigers

The big cats are part of the pride at Shambala, the wild-animal preserve in Acton, Calif., run by Melanie Griffith's mother, former Hitchcock blonde Tippi Hedren. "Thriller and Sabu always remind us of Michael," Hedren said in a statement.

• Bubbles, chimpanzee

Per a London Times account, this high-profile primate, with whom Jackson once shared his private toilet, was sent away from the singer's home after the chimp, nice clothes or no, started acting like an animal. At one time the twentysomething Bubbles resided in Sylmar, Calif., with Hollywood wrangler Bob Dunn. The chimp is currently at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchulu, Fla., the facility confirmed today.

• Rikki, Amazon parrot

Jackson's former favored bird—it was said to live in the main house, unlike Neverland's other aviary-residing feathered creatures—is winging it in Page, Ariz., with Freddie Hancock of Voices of the Wild Foundation.

Hancock acquired a zoo's worth of Jackson's former animals when the remaining Neverland gang was disbanded for good in 2007.

Speaking to E! News Friday, Hancock had nothing but praise for Jackson, whom she never met, as an animal guardian.

"We made several trips to Neverland, and you could tell from the facilities that there was a great deal of care and love for those animals," Hancock said.

In addition to Rikki, Hancock's Neverland alum collection includes other exotic birds, pythons and giraffes. Two black caiman (crocodile-y reptiles) and anacondas are off-site at a private preserve in Oklahoma, she said, awaiting their eventual move to the spread in Arizona.

Hancock, who described herself as "overwhelmed with sadness" by Jackson's death, said she had not yet broached the grim news to the brood.

"I talk to animals all the time, and I have not had that conversation with them," Hancock said, "but I am sure we will."