Rich Pets in Luxury Jun03

I was born in Tanzania and grew up loving nature in all its forms. I am passionate about wild life conservation and have always opposed poaching that has almost wiped out some precious species like the rhino. Pets in Tanzania, like the rest of Africa, are a luxury for the poor indigenous population. European expatriates can afford good care of pets and often have them to give companionship and security. 


Millions of people all over the world love and take good care of their pets as they derive much comfort and companionship from them. Our civilisation is judged, in part, by the way we treat our animals and it is right that we are conscious of animal welfare.


Countess Karlotta Liebenstein (German) died in 1992 leaving £60m to an alsatian called Gunther III. This fortune, worth £90m today, is for the benefit of Gunther’s son called Gunther IV. Gunther IV lives in palatial splendour served by a butler and a maid. Gunther enjoys chauffeur driven outings, beauty treatments and dips in a custom-built pool. He dines on steak & caviar.


Other super rich pets are Kalu, the Chimpanzee worth £40m, and Keiko the whale worth £15m. Kalu was the beneficiary of the will of Countess of Kenmore’s daughter, Patricia O’Neill.


Rich pets travel first class on airlines, stay in luxury pet hotels and go to fancy parties in exotic locations. They use nothing but the best, including expensive shampoo and Hermes scarves. They go to training schools and graduate, celebrating their success in style. They have photos and films records of their activities and travel in a similar way to Hollywood stars. They pay for media relations and secure appropriate publicity. They even “donate” funds to charitable causes.   


We live in a democratic and liberal society and people are free to do as they wish as long as they do not inconvenience, harm or deprive others of their rights. In this respect, I cannot question the inheritance of these super rich pets. However, I wonder about the following:-


  1. Can these pets really appreciate the luxury in taste of fine Caspian caviar and tender fillet from the best Scottish beef herds?

  2. Can these pets distinguish between Egyptian cotton sheets and a cotton polyester blend from Marks & Spencer? How would they know that the silk scarf is a Hermes?

  3. Who decides on when and with whom Gunther IV will mate and how is the inheritance carried forward?

  4. Who decides on the disbursements of Gunther’s investments e.g. salary and expenses for butler, maid, trainer, chef etc

  5. Does the State charge a specifically higher Inheritance Tax for super rich pets? If not, why not?


All of us are aware of more than 2 billion people living on less than £0.50 a day. These millions are deprived of the basic needs of life like water, sanitation, food and shelter. They die of hunger and preventable diseases like diarrhoea, malaria, and tuberculosis. From Ethiopia to Afghanistan, we see daily the human misery on display on our screens.  


Currently, obesity is a serious problem in the rich industrialised countries. Cardiovascular diseases cause many deaths and impose a heavy burden on our health delivery system (NHS). We are considering taxing the obese by levying a tax (VAT) on biscuits, cakes and ready made fatty foods.


Should we also consider taxing the super rich pets in a way that will directly help the poor? Gunther, Kalu and Keiko would still continue to live in luxury.  They would, like the super rich in our society, pay a higher tax, including a special inheritance tax for pets. A part of such taxation could also be used for rescuing stray pets abandoned by irresponsible people. It could be a “win win” situation for all concerned.