Michael Jackson’s Neverland groundskeeper has revealed how being accused of child abuse broke the singer. Ray Robledo – who managed Jackson’s 2,700-acre ranch for seven years between 1989 and 1996 — has also shared secrets about the insane workings of the estate, including how the singer cross-bred freak animals in its zoo.
Robledo was recruited in 1989 by Jackson after he lost his job at a game reservation and a pal recommended him for the Neverland manager post. He said in his book Behind The Gates Of Neverland that he was initially bowled over by the extravagance at the estate in Santa Barbara, California.
Robledo revealed the singer had workers create a “zonkey” in his Neverland zoo — a mix of a donkey and zebra. “They had a donkey-type animal called a ‘zonkey,’” he added. “I was told that a zonkey was a cross breed between a donkey and a zebra.” Zonkeys are in fact known as “zebroids” and can be the product of a cross between zebras and any other equine beasts including stallions. Because of the way they have been created, they usually have health problems and are infertile.
Wacko may also have been experimenting with cross breeding between his other beasts – which included a 16-foot-tall giraffe named Jabbar, a lion called Kimba and a reptile house filled with iguanas and snakes including a pure white king cobra.
Robledo also told how Jackson wastefully threw a fortune to hire a “deer chaser” at Neverland whose sole job was to stop the animals munching on the ranch’s prized roses. But he said the high times crumbled when Jackson was accused in 1993 of abusing teen Jordy Chandler at the ranch, where an army of children were entertained by the singer. He added: “Neverland was crumbling. I knew it was just a matter of time that my employment at the ranch would be over. When Michael did show up at the ranch there were no more train rides or carefree conversations with him.”
“We would talk about how important it was to have someone to trust in this life and as I told Michael, we all have encountered hardships in our lives,” Robledo explained.
Published before HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary was released, Robledo admits in his book he didn’t “know everything about Michael.” But he insists the singer “loved his fans”. His book contains an image of Jackson sitting alone and depressed beside a pond at Neverland in the wake of allegations he abused Jordy Chandler. He says the singer would also ask Ray “deep” questions such as: “What means most to you in life?” Isolated Jackson also asked Ray to constantly play the track “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” by prog-rockers YES on his grounds.
Chandler’s allegations against Jackson were dropped after a $23million settlement payment to the boy and his family. But Jackson is now again being accused of being a sexual molester in the wake of accusations from Wade Robson, now 36, and James Safechuck, 41, that they spent years being groomed and abused by the former pop idol.