MICHAEL Jackson’s chimp Bubbles now spends his life in a retirement home after allegedly attempting suicide amid claims he suffered abuse while living with the King of Pop.
Once upon a time, he was the most famous primate on the planet thanks to his intense relationship with the Jacko. These days he lives a life of obscurity — occasionally knocking out the odd painting.
Now 38, which is late-middle-aged in chimpanzee terms, Bubbles is holed up in the Center for Great Apes in Florida — which acts retirement home for famous chimps and orangutans.
This is a far cry from his life with Jacko where he was constantly under the media spotlight.
Strangely, or perhaps tellingly, these days Bubbles will often turn his back when he sees a camera, despite having been the most photographed chimp in the world.
The chimpanzee was adopted while he was a baby and was regarded by the singer — who died in 2009 of a drugs overdose — as his first child.
Before long the duo were an inseparable double act, rarely apart.
Since Jackson could not bear to leave him at home while on world concert tours, the pair would stay together in hotel rooms and dine out.
Even at the studio, while recording Bad, the devoted ape would be sitting in the control room watching as Jackson laid down his famous tracks.
Famously, by the tender age of four he had learned his master’s signature moonwalk dance and appeared in music videos.
The four-and-a-half foot chimp also wore a miniature version of the gold military-style wear or tracksuits favoured by Jackson.
But it’s alleged there was a dark, more tumultuous side to their seemingly perfect relationship.
Jane Goodall, 87, the world’s top primatologist, has alleged the plucky primate had been “beaten” while living with Jackson.
And the British expert said Jacko flew into a rage when she confronted him about the alleged abuse.
In 2014, she said: “I went to see him and we talked about Bubbles. I ticked him off.
“Bubbles is still alive and he’s beautiful. But when he was with Michael he was being beaten.”
Even though Jane did not name Jackson as Bubbles’ abuser, the ex-husband of the star’s sister LaToya has claimed he saw the Thriller singer attacking the defenceless animal.
The Jackson family has strongly denied Michael abused Bubbles.
Whatever the truth was, in a 2003 documentary, Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson told journalist Martin Bashir that Bubbles had become too argumentative and moody and had to go.
The same year the troubled chimp allegedly tried to kill himself and was rushed to hospital, it is claimed.
It was reported in 2019 the animal tried to take his own life after Michael was charged with child molestation.
He is alleged to have been saved by medics — but no further details of the alleged incident have ever been revealed.
And so, in March 2005 Bubbles was packed off to the Center for Great Apes.
During his initial years there he reportedly ballooned to 12.5 stone, despite no longer having access to the pots of his treasured Haagen-Dazs ice cream he’d scoffed at Michael’s palatial mansion.
Despite macabre rumours of his death, including that he has been preserved in a formaldehyde filled jar, he is still very much alive.
In fact these days he mostly takes it easy, listening to flute music as his beard greys and a bald spot widens above his furrowed brow.
And he paints. His carers say he will only give the canvas back only when he has finished.
In 2017 one of his abstract artworks fetched the princely sum of £3,000 ($4,000).
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