Lady Liquor: Boozing It Up in the Animal Kingdom
I've been fighting a nasty cold all week. Tuesday night found me sipping one hot toddy after another at a bar in my neighborhood, determined not to go home until Romney actually conceded—fatigue, my hacking cough and multiple looming deadlines notwithstanding.
In that spirit, I'm inclined to take a break from analyses of the history and gender politics of boozing, and do what I always like to do when I'm feeling a little bit under the weather: watch cute animal videos. This being Lady Liquor, however, today's cute animal display will focus on one of my favorite things ever: animals getting loaded.
That many nonhuman animals seem to have a taste for alcohol is often used as support for the claim that the desire for intoxication is universal, though some stories— like those about elephants getting drunk on fermented marula fruit—have been disputed by scientists, who note elephants actually eat marula fruits fresh, and that it would take a lot of fruits to give an elephant even a slight buzz.
This video, which, according to the narrator, depicts animals bumbling around after eating fallen marula fruit, is more likely a collection of clips of animals being clumsy. Whatever. I dig it.
Occasionally, birds in my back yard growing up would eat berries that had apparently fermented, and start acting like this dude (WARNING: this video includes an inexplicable laugh track):
In a similar spirit:
One of my favorite books growing up—Beverly Cleary's Emily's Runaway Imagination—included an account of pigs getting out of their pen and making their way over to the apple grove, where they proceeded to gobble up several fermented apples and stagger around amid the protagonist's mother's fancy lady brunch. These guys are, purportedly, drinking non-alcoholic beer, but I dig their panache:
A few weeks ago I was at a party with a Boston terrier who kept knocking over people's beers and drinking them, and begging people to share their beer with her. My dog growing up was a beer fan, too, at least until the one time he had a few saucers too many and ralphed, at which point he promptly quit. (Dogs: still smarter than people.) There are zillions of videos of dogs drinking beer, or dogs bumbling around drunk on YouTube, but you know what? This is the dog I want.
I've heard of cats liking booze (my roommate tells me there was a cat in his house growing up who drank beer with his sister), but most of the ones I've known are horrified by the smell of alcohol, and not a little concerned that I would actually drink it. But I caught one of the cats I live with digging through my backpack to find the fresh catnip I'd brought home for him, so who the hell is he to judge? These guys are coming off sedatives from the vet, and maybe I should not find this funny, but I do:
These guys might be my favorite of the pack: monkeys stealing booze from unsuspecting tourists:
Ingesting alcohol can have the same negative effects on animals that it does on humans, of course, and in much smaller amounts, since they have tiny little livers. Vets caution against giving your pets alcohol, and note that some dogs are seriously allergic to hops. I don't recommend getting your pets loaded for your own entertainment, though surely a saucer or palm full of beer is pretty harmless in most cases (ditto for animals ingesting small quantities of weed, which, judging by YouTube, is a really common problem, and also a hilarious one).
Still, I find it fascinating that so many species dig getting drunk or high as much as people do, and that as with people, animals' use habits are so varied. Within each species that intoxicates itself, for instance, there are always teetotalers—or animals like my late cat Simon who, after eight years of daily naps in the catnip patch, abruptly lost interest in 'nip and never looked back. Readers, do you have any stories about animals getting sauced or stoned that you want to share?
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