Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch was shut down on March 9th and he was fined around $169,000 for failing to pay or insure his workers for months. California officials ordered the eccentric star to “stop using any employee labour”, at the sprawling 2,700-acre ranch, until he obtains workers’ insurance. Local animal welfare officials are also monitoring the situation at Neverland and will remove Jackson’s zoo animals if necessary.
Jan Glick, animal services director, said: “We are keeping an eye on it.”
The enormous ranch features amusement park rides and a zoo that includes elephants, giraffes, snakes, orang-utans, tigers and a crocodile. Officials said Jackson, who has been living in Bahrain since his acquittal on child-molestation charges last June, has failed to pay more than 30 ranch workers since December. The figure in unpaid wages is believed to total at least $306,000. Authorities were alerted after a Neverland employee making an unpaid-wage claim remarked that a co-worker had been injured at work and was unsure about filing a claim due to the lapsed insurance.