Rare TV Wins Commission for Searching for Michael Jackson’s Zoo


Rare TV has been commissioned by ITV for Searching for Michael Jackson’s Zoo, a documentary special that tracks down the exotic animals kept by the late pop icon at his Neverland Ranch.

A co-production from Rare TV and Freshwater Films, Searching for Michael Jackson’s Zoo is fronted by BAFTA-winning actor, author and presenter Ross Kemp. The doc, which sets out to discover what became of the menagerie that Jackson acquired from international captive breeders and animal poachers, will air on ITV next month.

Jackson’s private zoo hosted 124 exotic animals at its peak, including zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers and his famous pet chimpanzee, Bubbles. Following Jackson’s death in 2009, the zoo was dismantled and the animals dispersed. As Kemp journeys across the U.S. to learn what happened to them, he also discovers that many of the animals that had been in Jackson’s care were neglected and maltreated.

BossaNova Media is handling the worldwide distribution of Searching for Michael Jackson’s Zoo.

Alexander Gardiner, CEO of Rare TV, said: “To the outside world, Bubbles the chimp was one of Michael Jackson’s closest companions. The truth is much darker, as Ross Kemp reveals in this compelling but troubling documentary. Both creatively and commercially, this project is a milestone for Rare TV. Not only is Searching for Michael Jackson’s Zoo documentary-making of the highest caliber, but it marks our first prime-time production for ITV. That’s the icing on the cake in a year that has seen Rare TV deliver 16 different titles for ten different channels.”

Kemp said: “For obvious reasons, Michael Jackson’s legacy has been ruined for many people, but he remains an idol for millions. Part of that fascination comes from his Neverland home, and one of its key features—bizarre for some, magical for others—was his extraordinary collection of animals. But so little is known about the fate of many that became celebrities in their own right during Jackson’s career. But after traveling nearly 3,000 miles across the United States, the search gave me a new insight into the singer and opened my eyes to our continued uncomfortable relationship with wild animals.”