Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Michael Jackson's tiger Thriller dies (but Bubbles is going strong)

  • @enjoli_

One of the stars of Michael Jackson's former Neverland Ranch home – his pet Bengal tiger, Thriller – has died from lung cancer.

The 13-year-old animal, along with her brother Sabu, were transferred to a wildlife centre in California run by the American actress and activist Tippi Hendren in 2006 when the late singer's ranch was closed after he failed to pay staff.

"Thriller was a real piece of work – one gutsy girl," said Ms Hendren of the 375lb tiger. "She ruled the roost, was very independent and tough."

Despite her showbiz connections, Thriller, whose death on 11 June was made public yesterday, kept her paws firmly on the ground. "She didn't care. She was not a diva and didn't mug for the camera. We all loved her for it," Ms Hendren said.

Mr Jackson was famously pictured with a tiger cub on the CD cover of his 1982 hit album Thriller, and often spoke of his love of animals before his death in 2009. Other animals kept at the 2,800 acre ranch in California included giraffes and elephants.

But he never called to check on the tigers or helped pay for their care, Ms Hendren said.

However, Mr Jackson's former pet chimpanzee, Bubbles, is believed to be alive and well at an animal sanctuary in Florida.