• Michael Jackson's pet chimpanzee Bubbles turned 40 in April
  • By around 1989, he was too large and unsuitable as a domesticated pet so he was moved to a ranch in California
  • Bubbles is now around 5 feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds

The late Michael Jackson's pet chimpanzee, Bubbles, recently turned 40.

The chimpanzee, bought as an infant by Jackson in 1983 from a Texas research facility, celebrated his birthday in April with a party at his "retirement home" with the theme of bubbles.

"He did get a cake – but it's a special ape-healthy cake," Patti Ragan, founding director at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, told the New York Post. "We frost it with mashed bananas and add a little bit of blue food coloring ... and then we wrote his name in blueberries."

"We had tubs of bubble bath. They had paper bubbles everywhere," Ragan added.

The chimpanzee, which has been living at the ape sanctuary since 2005, was reportedly a gracious host during his birthday celebration.

"He just wanted to see who was visiting," Ragan said. "He came and looked at all the staff that had come to be there for the party."

During his younger years, Bubbles was said to have slept in a crib inside Jackson's bedroom in Neverland Ranch, according to The Independent. But by around 1989, he was too large and unsuitable as a domesticated pet, so he was moved to a ranch in California owned by Jackson's trainer Bob Dunn.

"When he became too big to be around people, maybe about 6 or 7 years old, Michael Jackson's trainer had him with his other chimps," Ragan said.

Right now, Bubbles is around 5 feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds.

Staff at the sanctuary would entertain him with his former owner's music and DVDs.

"If he saw Michael Jackson [in person], of course, he'd remember him and go crazy in greeting him," Ragan said.

In 2019, the Center for Great Apes set the record straight on several reports about Bubbles, including rumors that the "Thriller" singer left the chimpanzee an estimated $2 million upon his death in 2009.

"The truth is that Bubbles was not named in Jackson's will. However, when Bubbles first arrived at the sanctuary, an agreement was signed by a Jackson family member pledging to cover his annual care costs each year," a post on the center's Facebook read.

The center's founder confirmed that MJJ Productions and Jackson's estate continue to honor the agreement and send funds to help them care for Bubbles.

In addition to this, Ragan said that the Jackson Estate gave a "generous gift" to help in the expansion of the sanctuary's habitats, allowing the center to take in more chimpanzees who need a home.

"It is our hope that those who loved Bubbles know that he is happy and well-cared for, and we invite everyone to visit our website where they can learn more about Bubbles and all our wonderful chimpanzees and orangutans," Ragan added.

Michael Jackson radio
Win McNamee/Getty Images