Michael Jackson's Chimp's Surprising Talent Is Raising Money To Save Apes

By Travis Greenwood

We swear this isn't monkey business: Bubbles, a 34-year-old chimpanzee who rose to fame in the early '90s as Michael Jackson's former pet and globetrotting travel companion, will headline "Apes That Paint", an art show and fundraiser in Miami that opens on July 21.

According to a new report from the Miami Herald, proceeds from the 10-day exhibition will benefit the Center For Great Apes, a sanctuary in Wauchula, Florida that currently houses 26 chimps and 21 orangutans.

Like Bubbles, the majority of the resident primates arrived at the 100-acre preserve after they were retired from the entertainment industry, research labs, and the exotic trade or simply grew too large and unruly to be kept safely as pets.

Sadly, most arrived in a neglected and abused state.

Michael Jackson's Former Pet Chimp Bubbles Will Headline "Apes That Paint, An Art Show & Fundraiser In Miami
credit: FRAMES USA

In an effort to stimulate the animals with enrichment activities, the center routinely provides them with non-toxic arts and crafts, including paints, chalks, and canvases.

While some of the apes opt to color outside the lines (on the walls, their feet, or their friend's feet, for instance), Bubbles has become a rather prolific artist, and his body of work includes a series of abstract watercolors characterized by bold strokes and rich colors — some of which have previously fetched up to $1500 at auction!

Bubbles, The Chimpanzee
credit: Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/GettyImages

Writing on their blog, the host gallery, FRAMES USA, has revealed that 61 pieces will be available for purchase at prices that range between $200 and $2,000.

Assuming all portraits sell, the Center For Great Apes stands to receive a modest windfall of about $18,000, all of which will defray the cost of the apes' care (said to be about $22,000 per inhabitant annually).

In addition to Bubbles (described by the gallery's curator as "the Babe Ruth of the show"), the gala will include artwork from other animals with a celebrity past:

"Jonah and Jacob, the chimps who worked with Mark Wahlberg on Planet of the Apes, Popi the orangutan from the '80s movie Going Ape starring Tony Danza and Danny DeVito (she also costarred with Clint Eastwood in 1980's Any Which Way You Can, along with another orangutan), and Bam Bam, the animal star of the NBC soap opera Passions."

To learn more about how you can help the sanctuary, which isn't open to the public and is dependent on donations, visit their website. For more on the art show, including how to RSVP, bounce on over to FRAMES USA.

Embedded below: Video of Bubbles and MJ in happier times when they drank tea with the mayor of Osaka, Japan. My kingdom to anyone that can decode what the photog at the :58 second whispers into Jackson's ear.

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