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