Michael Jackson’s mad menagerie: Whatever happened to King of Pop’s Neverland animals?
By Rachael Bletchly | 12 Apr 2013 00:00
Michael Jackson’s chimp Bubbles was once the most pampered pet in pop, travelling the globe with the superstar.
But, as we revealed yesterday, the animal has been spurned by the singer’s family and is living out his days in a Florida animal sanctuary.
And he is not the only member of Jackson’s menagerie to end up on skid row… or come to a tragic end.
The late King of Pop had his own animal “family” and kept a host of exotic animals in a private zoo at his Neverland home in California.
But he refused to return to the ranch after his 2005 child sex abuse trial – and acquittal – and sold up.
The fate of his pets was left to respected vet Martin Dinnes, who once said: “Michael didn’t care about making money from his animals, he just wanted me to make sure they went to the best possible homes.
“Some were sold and some were given away, but Michael approved of all the places they went.”
But years later, animal rights campaigners PETA have warned it is tough to track most of them down.
PETA’s Lisa Wathne said: “All too often even people who start with good intentions, as Michael Jackson did, don’t have the ability to care for these animals.
“Michael Jackson did apparently run into financial problems that led to his animals being dispersed all over the world.”
Here is what we do know about the beasts of Neverland…
There are no real clues as to where Asian jumbo Gypsy could have disappeared to.
The five-ton elephant was a gift from Jackson’s close friend Elizabeth Taylor in 1991.
Actress Liz recalled after giving him the pet: “Soon after Larry Fortensky and I got married at Michael’s Neverland Valley Ranch, I couldn’t think of what to give Michael to show my undying thanks.
“I had been trying to think of a truly meaningful way to thank him.”
The Hollywood legend went on: “Then I got an idea: Michael has a zoo. I’ll get him an elephant!
“That clinched it. I got him a great big Asian elephant named Gypsy.”
Most of Jacko’s reptiles live at the GW Exotic Animal Memorial Park in Oklahoma.
It has 12,000 animals, including Madonna, Jacko’s female albino python which is 18ft and weighs 300lbs.
But there’s no trace of Muscles, Michael’s boa constrictor, which he loved to feed live mice.
The park takes unwanted animals which include lions, tigers and bears.
Two of Jackson’s herd of four giraffes – named Rambo, Jabba Jnr, Princess and Annie Sue – died mysteriously after they left Neverland.
The animals moved to Arizona in 2007 to live with well-meaning but inexperienced animal enthusiasts Tommy and Freddie Hancock.
The husband and wife team, who made their fortune selling jet-skis, had set up the 175-acre Banjoko Wildlife Preserve in Page and intended to spend their retirement looking after abandoned animals.
But within the space of a few weeks in 2009 both Rambo and Jabba Jnr died.
PETA blamed the Hancocks for feeding them incorrectly and exposing them to cold. But the couple claimed they were poisoned.
“We suspect foul play with the giraffes,” said Freddie Hancock.
“There is no other explanation for their deaths. Someone has a personal vendetta against us.”
Freddie and her husband have now found a new site in South Utah and plan to move Princess and Annie Sue and their other animals there.
As yet, there has been no official investigation into the deaths of either Rambo or Jabba Jnr.
Michael had two other chimps besides Bubbles, but it is not clear when they left his side.
At his trial in 2005, jurors learned from a video interview with the singer that his chimpanzees would help him out with housekeeping chores.
He said: “They run around and help me clean the room. They help me dust and clean the windows.”
But when Jackson’s maids testified, they were not nearly so impressed by the state of the animals.
One housekeeper claimed that she had to clean up the droppings of one of the chimpanzees, after it decided to throw its waste at the bedroom wall.
Meanwhile, another maid described how messy chimp Max would tear off his nappy before crawling into Jacko’s bed.
And the rest
Jacko seemed to love all his animals, but his favourite parrot Rikki was more like a house guest than a pet.
The bird was allowed to live in the mansion with him, unlike Neverland’s other parrots and macaws.
Like the star’s giraffes, the yellow-naped Amazon also went to the Hancocks’ foundation in Arizona, along with the other exotic birds.
Two alligators were taken to Oklahoma with the snakes.
Park boss John Reinke said: “We call the big alligator MJ. He’s 14ft long, weighs about half a ton and eats whole raw chickens.”
Thirteen Chilean flamingos were sent to Cape May County Zoo, in New Jersey, and two orangutans also had to be re-homed.
But it is not known where llamas Louie and Lola, or ram Mr Tibbs, ended up.
The same goes for Jackson’s pet dogs – Black Girl, Spanky, Shadow, Large and Sasha.
The star was photographed with Large the bulldog for several publicity shots, but there is no trace of any of his pet pooches now.
Credits: Rachel Bletchly