An African elephant once owned by Michael Jackson and who used to live at the pop legend’s Neverland Ranch decided to stroll right out of his enclosure at Florida’s Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Sunday, June 17.
Ali, the elephant, easily walked right through an open gate yesterday afternoon, reported Action Jax News.
Fortunately, the sneaky mammal did not go too far away from his exhibit, and he was not in any danger and was not a danger to others — human or animal. Ali wound up in a contained courtyard just a few feet away.
Zoo officials still had to issue a “code-red” alert, as per protocol, but normal zoo operations were not interrupted as the park was open for visitors at the time of the incident.
The Jacksonville Zoo did admit the beautiful elephant was only able to leave his enclosure because of human error. “[Ali] went through a gate that was accidentally left open and ended up in a courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant barn,” wrote the zoo’s spokespeople on its official Facebook page. “All in all, Ali was out of his yard for 20 minutes.”
With some “food encouragement” from zookeepers, Ali was quickly led back to his proper holding enclosure, which he shares with two other elephants, and all was right again.
“We do drills for these things. We do practice in the unlikely event that an animal gets somewhere that it’s not supposed to be,” Dan Maloney, the zoo’s deputy director, told Action Jax News.
In 1997, the Jacksonville Zoo acquired the “sweet-natured bull elephant” via a donation from Michael Jackson, the late King of Pop. Ali had been part of the zoo at the Thriller singer’s Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California.
Jackson, who died in 2009, loved animals his whole life. In 1972, he recorded the Golden Globe-winning song “Ben,” which was written for the film of the same name about a boy and his pet rat.
He also famously owned a chimpanzee named Bubbles that he frequently traveled with and lovingly treated like his very own child. The 35-year-old animal, who was born in a Texas biomedical laboratory, now lives at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, with other monkeys.
Last summer, Bubbles took part in the “Apes that Paint” art exhibition in Miami, reported People, which raised money for his home, the Center for Great Apes. The chimp’s creations have sold for as much as $1,500 at auction.