The German businessmen and animal lover who created a real-life animal farm where all of the residents are animals has celebrated his 60th birthday with all of his animal friends – and a few celebrities.
Michael Aufhauser made a fortune in industry but then sold everything to buy the Gut-Aiderbichl farm in Salzburg which he filled with unwanted pets, worn out farm animals and other rescued animals from all around the world.
His most famous recent acquisition is runaway cow that kept hunters on the hoof for over a month as they chased across Germany. Yvonne became such a celebrity in the media that there is even a Hollywood production currently being negotiated in which Yvonne will be the star.
Although the animal farm was created for the animals none of whom need to work for their keep – it raises some money by allowing humans to visit and there are also many animals that have been adopted or sponsored by animal lovers.
Many of those were among the 5,000 people that gathered to celebrate the 60th birthday of Aufhauser at the weekend.
And far from drifting slowly into a quiet retirement Aufhauser unveiled numerous plans to continue with his life’s work and to expand it.
Aufhauser asked people not to provide him not with gifts, and instead asked people to make donations to the farm, which raised an additional €300,000.
He said: “It is great and will certainly go towards the €8 million every year we need for our animal protection work. We never make a profit and every year it is close – but every year so far we’ve managed to make it.”
And his animal farm project is not alone now – it also has bases in Germany and France and may have saved thousands of animals and they have 250 staff.
When he does get too old he already has a second in command to takeover – managing director Dieter Ehrengruber is 35 years old and is the man of the future for Aufhauser, saying; “Every foal I take in will outlive me. That might be 40 years,” Aufhauser says, “Then you have to make sure that when I cannot walk into the stables with a pitchfork, someone else will.”
“It should be a sustainable project that will hopefully remain active on its own. That is what we work to achieve,” says Ehrengruber.
Among the celebs was pop singer Roberto Blanco who joked: “If the world continues like this, we will have to make a Gut Aiderbichl for human beings.”