Michael Jackson’s Scattered Menagerie

Published by Heather Faraid Drennan.

Despite Conrad Murray’s manslaughter conviction, there will probably always be unanswered questions about Michael Jackson’s life and death. Questions about what happened to the exotic animals Jackson kept as “pets” may never be answered either, since the whereabouts of some of the animals aren’t known.

The famous chimpanzee Bubbles, whom Jackson took everywhere with him at one time, was one of the first animals to leave the Neverland Ranch, when he ceased to be a cute and cuddly youngster and became a strong, aggressive adolescent. Bubbles was lucky enough to wind up at a reputable sanctuary, as were two tigers who once lived at Neverland.

But despite Jackson’s directive that the animals go to the best homes possible, many of the animals ended up at pseudo-sanctuaries, where they received woefully inadequate care because of either ignorance or willful neglect. Two giraffes from Jackson’s zoo, for example, died just weeks apart at Tom and Freddie Hancock’s Banjoko Wildlife Preserve, possibly as a result of exposure to cold temperatures and/or improper feeding. Two more giraffes and several parrots from Neverland remain with the Hancocks.

The alligators and a python named Madonna, purchased by Jackson, now live at a roadside zoo in Oklahoma. Thirteen flamingos were sent to a zoo in New Jersey. Two orangutans went to live with a private owner in Connecticut.

If the King of Pop couldn’t afford to keep exotic animals as pets, imagine the neglect faced by animals held by people with far fewer resources. The exotic-animal owner in Ohio who released two dozen animals before killing himself last month did so after facing mounting financial difficulties. Please click here to urge Ohio officials to permanently ban exotic-animal ownership, and never visit a roadside zoo or pseudo-sanctuary, where discarded former “pets” languish.

Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind