Sunday, 3 July 2011

Animals Getting High: New Book Explores Feeling Good In The Wild

Steven Hoffer First Posted: 06/30/11 01:37 PM ET Updated: 06/30/11 01:37 PM ET

After a long day of roaming the wild, can you blame a bird for throwing back a few fermented berries?

Perhaps not, according to author and neuroscientist David Linden, who says that wild animals will "voluntarily and repeatedly consume psychoactive plants and fungi," much like humans.

In his new book, The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good, Linden discusses an array of wild creatures getting stoned on pretty much whatever they can get their claws on.

The list includes birds, elephants and monkeys that scavenge for naturally fermented berries as well as African boars, porcupines and gorillas that ingest the hallucinogenic iboga plant. There are also goats getting a jump by munching on wild coffee berries and, of course, the infamous magic mushroom-loving flying reindeer.

An excerpt from the book explains:

But do we really know whether these animals like the psychoactive effects of the drug, or are they just willing to put up with them as a side effect of consuming a valuable food source? After all, fermented fruit is a tasty and nutritious meal. While it’s hard to dissociate these motivations in animals, many cases suggest that the psychoactive effect is the primary motivator for consumption. Often, only a tiny amount of plant or fungus is consumed, so while its nutritional effect is minuscule its psychoactive effect is large.

As Linden puts it, "Bob Dylan and Siberian Reindeer Agree: Everybody Must Get Stoned."

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