8 Aug 2011

10 Outrageously Expensive Pets

By Jill Weinberger, CNBC.com
Recently, eccentric rocker Ozzy Osbourne paid $10,000 in an auction for an eight-week old Yorkshire terrier. Pricey? Not compared to the price tags of some of the pets out there. In fact, Ozzy was lucky to have paid so little. Just like with cars, purses, and jewelry, people with deep pockets will spend outrageous sums of money on animals. 
The reasoning behind these purchases can vary from investing in the animal’s DNA and their breeding prospects, to owning a unique creature, or for simple companionship. To get an idea of how expensive pets can be, CNBC.com looked into some of the most expensive animals that have been sold or that can be purchased. Osbourne’s $10,000 pup may start to look like a drop in the bucket. 
So, what are some of the most expensive animals out there?

Ashera Cat 

Price: $22,950

The Ashera cat can be described as a mini-leopard and is developed by crossing two exotic feline bloodlines—the African Serval and the Asian Leopard—with a regular domestic cat; it features distinctive leopard-like spots and contrasting tiger stripes. One of the reasons the Ashera draws such a high price-tag is for a very unique feature: The cat is hypo-allergenic. Also contributing to the price is its size, it can grow up to 25 to 30 pounds.

The exclusive breeder, Lifestyle Pets ,describes the cat as highly intelligent, very affectionate, and having a great temperament. It requires no additional care than your typical cat and is actually more social. It acts and plays like a regular domestic cat, but unlike normal cats, an Ashera takes well to being walked on a leash.

According to Simon Brody, the founder of Lifestyles Pets, about one Ashera cat per week is sold, making it one of the company’s best sellers.

Goliath Palm Cockatoo

Price: $15,000—$20,000

A Goliath Palm Cockatoo can cost a bird enthusiast anywhere from $15,000 to $$20,000. Other expensive breeds include the Hyacinth Macaw Parrot and the Black Cockatoo, both of which range from $12,000 to $17,000.

Jessica Hurley, a bird breeder who sells exotic breeds at lpbirds.com , explains many of these birds are difficult to breed in captivity, hence the high price. For example, the black cockatoo can only have up to one baby per year, making for a limited supply.

Color mutations can also drive up the cost of a bird, Hurley says. Many of the Amazon species have unique color patterns that can’t be replicated and thus can go for $15,000 to $20,000.

Lancelot Encore (Cloned Dog)

Price: $155,000

A year after their beloved yellow Labrador retriever, Lancelot, died of cancer, Edgar and Nina Otto welcomed a cloned copy into their home.

The Northern California biotech firm BioArts International held a dog-cloning auction and the Ottos won. The cloning didn’t come cheap, however, as the Ottos bid $155,000 for the opportunity. Nina Otto exclaims that Lancelot Encore has many personality similarities and that he looks just like their original Lancelot.

Deveronvale Perfection (Sheep)

Price: $378,000

Deveronvale Perfection earned the title of world’s most expensive sheep, fetching about $378,000 (£231,000) at an auction in 2009. The buyer was Jimmy Douglas, a sheep farmer in Aberdeenshire who told The Daily Mail that he had been 'tracking' the young sheep and knew when he saw a photograph of the prize specimen prior to the auction that he had to have him.

According to experts, Deveronvale Perfection’s“perfect” look includes good feet, sturdy and straight front legs, a good back end, and a strong head.

Deveronvale Perfection could breed with up to 300 ewes (female sheep) each year, and thousands more by artificial insemination, with each specimen worth $80 to $165.

Big Splash - Red Tibetan Mastiff

Price: $1.5 Million

Dogs may be “man’s best friend,” but this friend comes with a hefty price tag. In March 2011, a Tibetan Mastiff became the most expensive dog in the world after it was purchased in China for 10 million yuan (just over $1.5 million). The dog weighs 180 pounds and is appropriately named Big Splash.

In China, the Tibetan Mastiffs are thought to be holy animals, blessing their owners' health and security, and have become a status symbol in recent years. They’ve come to represent affluence and prices for the breed have been driven up 500 percent a year.

The owner’s investment may end up paying off, however, since breeding the dog has the potential to be quite lucrative. Some breeders are willing to pay as much as $100,000 to get access to Big Splash's gene pool.

In general, the Tibetan Mastiff is known for being loyal and fierce. Previous owners of the Red Tibetan Mastiff breed include Queen Victoria, King George IV and Genghis Khan.

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