Wild & Crazy Beasts
Zebra Finches, Dolphins, Elephants, and More Animals Under the Influence
From zebra finches to chimpanzees, ’tis the season for animals who’ve imbibed just a bit too much. (And we’re not talking about that embarrassing uncle of yours.)
The Oregon Health and Science University recently tested the effects of alcohol on the usually sober song stylings of zebra finches. And while this truly worthy experiment (even the late Maya Angelou would’ve wanted to know why a drunken caged bird sings) yielded some less than hilarious results—their feathered falsettos were slightly slurry, and a tad more quiet than usual—this idiotic experiment got our pre-New Year’s noggins to wondering: What other non-humans will be grappling with their chemical demons during the most habit-hurting of holidays?
When a Bee Follows CIn 2008, scientists from the Macquarie University in Australia and the University of Illinois, in search of new ways to create terrible puns off the word “buzzed,” decided they’d get a hive high by regularly dosing the domicile’s drones with cocaine. The result, which will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever had a conversation with a gacked up movie producer: The bees on C drastically overestimated their pollen discoveries when relaying information to their peers.It’s Hard Out There for a ChimpTarzan was no Marlboro man, but apparently John the chimpanzee would smoke whatever the dealer was having. The former mascot at a Russian casino was treated for nicotine addiction in 2013, after he was unable to kick his old habit (as well as a pretty sizable drinking problem) at his new home at Gelendzhik Safari Park, in southwest Russia. The Pall Mall-loving primate used to delight blackjack players by smoking their cigarettes at a dingy joint called Space and went on to happily accept the lit smokes and beers visitors would pass to him at the aforementioned zoo. Park employees helped John quit tobacco by way of a butts-proof glass enclosure, a drastic change in diet, and regular exercise. Yeah, we tried that once. Nicorette worked better.
In 1948, H.M. Peters, who’d been studying the web-spinning artistry of arachnids for years, decided to funk things up a bit. The zoologist at University of Tubingen in Germany gave a bunch of spiders some LSD. (Why didn’t Dr. Octopus think of this?) Indeed, the clearly bored egghead fed caffeine, acid, marijuana, and speed to his eight-legged freaks and then photographed how the mind-altering material affected their trap-making skills. The results, as you can plainly see, are as trippy as they are webby.
A Drunk With a Trunk
If an 1885 train accident hadn’t killed Jumbo the elephant, chronic alcoholism might have. His keepers fed the beast copious amounts of port, Champagne, and whiskey to pacify the persnickety pachyderm. “He seems to have become stupefied by it rather than turn into a mad drunk,” says John Sutherland, author of Jumbo: The Unauthorized Biography of a Victorian Sensation. Speaking of lily-livered leviathans, it’s still hard to believe this scene was in a Disney movie. Then again? We’ll see you pink elephants and raise you racist crows.
Flipper Flips Out
If you think humans are the most creative mammals when it comes to getting high, then you’re, well, high. Scientists have found that dolphins chew and then pass around blowfish—like some sort of aquatic bong—to experience an altered state, thanks to the creature’s natural nerve toxin. Partying porpoises have discovered that while a lot of the venomous defense mechanism can kill you, a little taste can make an octopus’s garden look even groovier, man. “It reminded us of that craze a few years ago when people started licking toads to get a buzz,” says zoologist Rob Pilley, who captured the phenomenon on film for a BBC One documentary, “especially the way they hung there in a daze afterwards.” Hey, whatever keeps those lecherous freaks from sexually assaulting humans is fine by us.