Elephants Drunk in the Wild? Scientists Put the Myth to Rest
It was thought that African elephants can get drunk by eating fermenting fruit from the ground. A new study tells a different story.
Almost anyone who has read a travel brochure about Africa has heard of elephants getting drunk from the fruit of the marula tree.
The lore holds that elephants can get drunk by eating the fermented fruit rotting on the ground. Books have been written asserting the truth of the phenomenon, and eyewitness accounts of allegedly intoxicated pachyderms have even been made.
But a new study to be published in the March/April 2006 issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology tells a very different story.
Steve Morris, a biologist at the University of Bristol in England and a co-author of the study, says anecdotes of elephants found drunk in the wild go back more than a century.
"There are travelers' tales from about 1839