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? Click ahead to find out.
By Jill Weinberger
Posted 02 August 2011
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.
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.
Looking to buy a pet that will grab everyone’s attention? Bob Clark, of bobclark.com, breeds some of the world's most expensive snakes and currently has a reticulated python available for $25,000.
The snake is a bargain, however, compared to Fluffy, who holds the Guinness World Record as the world's longest snake at 24 feet, weighing a massive 300 pounds. The snake was even featured on the "Dave Letterman Show." Fluffy was sold to the Columbus Ohio Zoo for $50,000 in 2007, but passed away in 2010.
People may purchase a snake of this caliber to breed, but in many cases it’s the idea of owning a rare specimen that's the attraction, says Clark.
Estimated Price: $80,000-plus
Wealthy fish enthusiasts will fork over big money for a rare mutation and a perfect example of this happened during the 2007 Aquarama fish exhibition in Singapore. It was there that Aro Dynasty, a Dragon fish breeder, was offered $80,000 for its arowana. The enticing offer was refused and the fish is no longer for sale.
The breed is considered lucky in the Far East, but what made this fish so unique was its white color, which is an exceedingly rare mutation for the species.
This highly valued fish is not without its flaws, however. The $80,000 specimen has a right eye that faces downward, which is a common problem among Arowanas. Many owners will pay to have cosmetic surgery to fix it.
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 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.
Price Paid: $1.2 Million
Missy, a three-year-old Holsten cow was sold for $1.2 million at an auction at Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair at Ponoka’s Morsan Farms in 2009. She was the second cow in Canada to be sold for more than $1 million and the fifth cow in the world to fetch more than $1 million.
What makes Missy so special is that she has a “deep pedigree, a great family behind her, a great milk production, a high genetic index, and she is one of the best show cows in the breed,” Chris Parry, the spokesman at Ponoka’s Morsan Farms told CNN. See footage of her.
Missy was purchased by two buyers, one from the U.S. and another from Denmark, who will have rights to Missy’s genetically superior embryos. Over the course of her life, Missy is estimated to have as many as 75 offspring.
According to Parry, “She has a great personality and likes to show herself off."
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.
Price: $2.7 million
Every year, thousands of camels come together in Abu Dhabi for the annual camel beauty contest. It was here in 2008 that Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, bought 16 camels for $4.5 million. The most expensive camel was priced at $2.7 million, according to the Emirates state news agency. In Abu Dhabi, owning fine camels is a mark of prestige for the ruling elite.
Price: $16 million
“The Green Monkey,” named after a golf course in the Barbados, shows that there is no such thing as a sure thing. In January 2006, The Green Monkey was auctioned off for $16 million, becoming the most expensive horse ever to be bought. Watch the bidding here. What made this stallion so valuable was his family line, and his blazing speed of 9.8 seconds for an eighth of a mile.
Unfortunately for the owners, “The Green Monkey” was a failed investment. When it came to racing, the horse was never able to recreate the speed he showed on display. In his career, the best he managed was one third-place finish. He was retired in 2008 and since then the buyers have focused on breeding him, charging a $5,000-per-stud fee.
"The Green Monkey" isn't the only multimillion-dollar race horse out there, here are seven others.