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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Bubbles Remembered

Published 06/29/10
By Susan Trout, Program Assistant

Born Free USA just celebrated its 2nd Annual "Keep Wildlife in the Wild Week", profuse with messages and advice about how to preserve and protect wild creatures in their native habitats. Friday, June 25, marked the first anniversary of the death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. And, if you are a Michael Jackson fan, I'm sure you knew about Bubbles, his famous chimpanzee.

Last week Animal Planet took a look back at Bubbles and how he came to be his constant companion during the late 1980's and early '90's.

Bubbles toured with Michael, ate at the dinner table with the family and was treated almost like a human. But, Bubbles isn't human, he's a chimpanzee and fortunately for both Michael and Bubbles, Michael realized before a tragedy occurred that he was no longer able to provide the kind of security and safe environment that Bubbles deserved. As an adult chimp, Bubbles became strong and difficult to manage.

Bubbles was rescued as a baby chimp from a research laboratory. I'm sure Michael had the best of intentions in saving him from a cruel life as a lab animal by keeping him as a pet. Based on what we know now, and following some extremely tragic attacks on humans by full-grown chimpanzees, keeping them as pets is not only dangerous to humans, but it's harmful to chimpanzees.

Primates are extremely intelligent and demonstrate human-like behaviors, but as they mature they become strong and aggressive and possess the strength of 10 grown men. To keep such an animal as a "pet" is both irresponsible and courting disaster.

Such was the case involving Travis, the chimp who lived with a Connecticut woman.

Travis was a mature male chimp who weighed 200 pounds. He attacked and horribly mutilated his possessor's best friend in an unprovoked attack which resulted in life-threatening injuries to the friend and Travis being first stabbed and finally shot to death. Weeks after the terrible attack she was questioned if she would repeat having Travis as a pet, and unequivocally she answered, "Yes." Travis bonded with his possessor, just as Bubbles bonded with Michael.

Fortunately for Bubbles, he has a "happier" ending and now resides at the Center for Great Apes in a remote area of Florida. While this sanctuary provides safety and natural surroundings for Bubbles, it can never really replicate living free in the wild and fully living life as a wild chimpanzee. It is our hope and goal to instill in the minds of people that wild creatures deserve to live as nature intended — wild and free.

Born Free USA provides sanctuary to hundreds of primates — some former pets just like Bubbles. These animals are given another chance to live their lives with as little human interference as possible at a spacious sanctuary in Texas. If you've never taken time to visit the Sanctuary webpage and acquaint yourself with the wonderful work we do to help primates, take a moment and visit. And if you've run out of ideas for a gift for a family member or animal-loving friend, why not give a primate adoption? It only costs a $1 a week to provide delicious monkey chow and oodles of fresh fruits and vegetables to the Sanctuary primates! Check it out!

And as always, thank you so much for your continuing support!

Til next time,


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