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What Happens When Elephants Become Intoxicated?

You've probably heard the expression "to drink like a fish," but for decades, villagers in India have been dealing with a much larger form of inebriation: elephants who storm into town with a thirst for sweet-smelling liquor. Such incidents have been widely reported in India since at least the 1990s. In one of the more recent episodes, approximately 50 pachyderms descended on Dumurkota village and went on a bender, drinking container after container of the local alcoholic beverage mahua before tearing through surrounding huts looking for more. While such an episode may sound comic, the attacks can turn deadly, for both people and elephants. Most experts say that while the sweet smell of the juice does attract the elephants, it is doubtful that they could imbibe enough to truly become intoxicated. Most likely, loss of habitat is the real culprit behind the many stories of "drunken elephants" ransacking Indian villages, as wild elephants and people are living in increasingly close proximity.

Longest, biggest, most misunderstood?:

  • Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal, averaging 95 weeks -- more than double the length of a human pregnancy.
  • There are actually two species of African elephants; the African bush elephant is significantly larger than the African forest elephant. In terms of weight, the Asian elephant is somewhere in between.
  • Despite how they are often portrayed in films, elephants don't like peanuts, neither in the wild nor in captivity.
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