Pop superstar Michael Jackson has been accused of keeping the vast array of animals left on his Neverland ranch in squalor.

The THRILLER star effectively abandoned the California estate to live in Bahrain after being acquitted of child molestation charges in June (05).

Photographs purporting to show animals including giraffes, elephants, orangutans and flamingoes living in cramped and dirty conditions have outraged animal rights activists.

People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) has written a letter to the US Department Of Agriculture asking for it to investigate conditions at Neverland.

PETA spokeswoman LISA WATHNE says, "These photos make it clear that the animals are being held in what can only be described as cruel conditions. They are abysmal and little more than holding cells.

"My message to Michael Jackson would be to close this place down and relocate the animals to an accredited zoo or sanctuary."

Earlier this month (JAN06), vet MARTIN DINNES filed a lawsuit against Jackson for allegedly not paying $91,602 (GBP51,729) in bills.