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Michael Jackson''s former pet Bubbles found alive and well in animal sanctuary (but he won''t be going to the funeral)
July 2
Published on 3 Jul. 2009 12:54 AM IST
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He was once Michael Jackson’s constant companion, but Bubbles the chimp disappeared from public view several years ago and he was feared dead. However the 26-year-old chimpanzee has been discovered alive and well at an animal sanctuary in Florida. Now bosses at the Centre for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, have allowed TV cameras to film Bubbles to prove he was still alive. But they say he will not be going to Sunday's funeral. 'Probably the best tribute we can pay Michael Jackson here is just to take excellent care of Bubbles because I know he loved Bubbles,' said the centre's director, Patti Ragan. Staff might mark Sunday's event in another way. Apparently he likes to listen to 'calming flute music' in his pen. There have been many rumours regarding Bubbles's whereabouts, the most recent being that he had been plastinated a number of years ago and was being exhibited at The Body Worlds & Mirror Of Time exhibition at the O2 Centre in London. Jackson rescued Bubbles from a cancer research centre and in the late Eighties, the pair travelled everywhere together. He sat in for the recording sessions of the smash-hit Bad album and during the ensuing world tour he and the singer shared a two bedroom hotel suite. At Neverland, he slept in a crib in Jackson's bedroom and was allowed to use the star's private toilet. As Bubbles reached adolescence, however, he became aggressive and was moved to an animal sanctuary amid fears that he might attack Jackson's newborn son, Prince Michael. Nevertheless, Jackson continued to make his own bizarre gestures of affection towards Bubbles, such as planning a 'celebrity animal party' for Bubbles. Cheeta, the chimp from Tarzan, and movie star dogs Benji and Lassie were on the guest list. The chimp has been at the Centre for Great Apes for the last four years - but sadly never got a visit from his former owner. 'Most of our chimps recognise their former owners and get excited to see them,' said Ragan. 'I'm pretty sure Bubbles would have got excited' had Jackson ever visited, she added. Despite his change of lifestyle, Ragan says that Bubbles is happy at the sanctuary and has a good relationship with the other chimps, who are also connected to the entertainment industry. ‘They laugh and dance together, they groom each other - but of course they sometimes fight and have arguments, too," she said. 'He's a very sweet and nice chimp, he really is. I've seen him go to the drinking fountain, start to take a sip of water and then, when he hears one of the younger ones coming, he'll step back and let them have a sip.'

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