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Alcohol self-administration by elephants


The anecdotal and historical literature describing intoxication in elephants from fermented fruit or alcoholic beverages is reviewed. Seven African elephants readily self-administered 7% unflavored alcohol solutions; the results included separation from herd groupings and changes in the frequency and/or duration of several behaviors as scored according to a quantitative observational system. Alcohol decreased feeding, drinking, bathing, and exploration for most animals. Inappropriate behaviors such as lethargy and ataxia increased for all elephants. Results are discussed in terms of stress-induced drinking and intoxication.


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This research was supported in part by USPHS Grant MH-23880. The authors thank H. Johnson, S. Craig, M. Tennet, D. Dooley, P. Quinn, and J. Kobrin for cooperation and assistance at Lion Country Safari. The authors are affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California.

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Siegel, R.K., Brodie, M. Alcohol self-administration by elephants. Bull. Psychon. Soc. 22, 49–52 (1984).

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  • Inappropriate Behavior
  • Asiatic Elephant
  • African Elephant
  • Wild Elephant
  • Fermented Fruit