Viewers are confused by Ross Kemp documentary 'Searching for Michael Jackson's Zoo'

·TV Reporter, Yahoo Entertainment UK
·3-min read
Ross Kemp meets animal trainer Mark Biancaniello who worked with Michael Jackson. (Rare TV Ltd)
Ross Kemp meets animal trainer Mark Biancaniello who worked with Michael Jackson. (Rare TV Ltd)

A Ross Kemp documentary in which he tried to track the animals that used to be kept at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch has left viewers feeling baffled.

ITV's Searching for Michael Jackson's Zoo with Ross Kemp aired on Wednesday night, but many viewers tweeted to say that they weren't sure why the programme had been made.

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Jackson, who died in 2009, has been the subject of a documentary in recent years questioning his relationships with children, while Kemp is known for making hard-hitting shows like Ross Kemp on Gangs.

But Wednesday's programme saw him go in search of the elephants, giraffes, tigers and chimps that had made up the menagerie at Neverland, and which were sold off when Jackson moved.

Michael Jackson with some of his animals. (Sipa/Shutterstock)
Michael Jackson with some of his animals. (Sipa/Shutterstock)

One viewer tweeted: "Ross Kemp is on itv looking for Michael Jackson's zoo animals. This may be a fever dream."

Someone else added: "On ITV at the moment - prime-time evening viewing - is a documentary following Ross Kemp in his search for the animals kept by the late Michael Jackson at his Neverland ranch. I kid you not."

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Another viewer commented: "I’m watching this Ross Kemp in search of Michael Jackson’s zoo animals tripe and wondering why? Why I’m watching it and why was it made?"

Someone else wrote: "Ross Kemp has gone from documentaries in Afghanistan and with the police to searching for Michael Jackson’s animals what is going on hahaha."

Ross Kemp
Ross Kemp investigated what had become of the Neverland menagerie. (Rare TV Ltd)

The documentary also saw him speak to conservationist and chimp expert Jane Goodall, who told an unsettling story of having met Jackson to advise him on how to care for his pet monkey, Bubbles.

She said: "I certainly reprimanded him about Bubbles, I reprimanded him about chimps shouldn't be taken from their mothers, they shouldn't be used in entertainment.

"He looked at me and he said, 'you wouldn't approve of a chimp being hit over the head would you?'."

Ross Kemp meets former Neverland elephant handler Josh. (Rare TV Ltd)
Ross Kemp meets former Neverland elephant handler Josh. (Rare TV Ltd)

Goodall continued: "Bubbles was hit when he did something wrong. He said once he had been hit across the room. I said, 'Michael did you think that was alright?' He said, 'No, not really.'"

Scenes such as the interview with Goodall lead some viewers to comment that the documentary may help in discouraging people from keeping exotic animals as pets.

One viewer tweeted: "People slating the Ross Kemp documentary about Michael Jackson's animals, if it helps to discourage the keeping of wild animals in private collections it hasn't been a waste of time #MichaelJacksonsZoo cruel & selfish."

Watch: Ross Kemp documentary exposes horrors of Michael Jackson's zoo

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