The most famous of which is 34-year-old Bubbles, who was once owned by pop icon Michael Jackson and featured prominently in photos of the singer in his glitzy trademark red double breasted jacket.
Yet many like Bubbles at the centre have faced a long road of rehabilitation and care at the centre after being overly trained and socialized to live and work with humans.
“I was invited three months ago to do a tour of the center and it was there in the orientation center where I saw a picture, a painting, of a chimpanzee who made something on paper. It didn’t dawn on me until the three-and-a-half-hour drive back to Miami where I said ‘wow, they’re talking about a whole expansion, fundraising, they needed money,’ and I said, ‘let’s do an art show,’” said Adam Brand, who owns the gallery and frame store that hosted the show on July 21.
Pieces by Bubbles and other primates like Popi, who was in “Going Ape!” alongside Tony Danza, Ripley, Tango, and Bam Bam featured bright colors jabbed across canvases in a haphazard fashion reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s famed splatter painting. Prices ranged from $375 (USD) all the way up to $2,000 and more than a dozen were sold an hour into the event.
The money will ultimately go toward the centre’s cost of permanently housing and caring for some primates who intense training regimes to perform on camera or in other forms of entertainment, don’t have the skills to ever return to the wild.
The main challenge now is keeping the animals stimulated in order to ensure they remain healthy and alert, which some say the paintings show they’ve been all along.
“The idea of looking at these paintings and you know on the one hand I say, ‘well isn’t this fascinating?’ but then on the other hand I say, ‘what else would you expect?’” said Deana Litowitz who said she and her husband were eyeing one of Bubbles’ paintings.