Museum of Hoaxes
"Very well-researched and delivered in an engaging, breezy, wink-wink tone similar to that of Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg's Why Do Men Have Nipples?, this will likely be enjoyed equally by science buffs and casual aficionados of the curious. One of the finest science/history bathroom books of all time."
-Kirkus Reviews

Web Hoax Museum


#1: Elephants on Acid
imageWhat happens if you give an elephant LSD? On Friday August 3, 1962, a group of Oklahoma City researchers decided to find out.

Warren Thomas, Director of the City Zoo, fired a cartridge-syringe containing 297 milligrams of LSD into Tusko the Elephant's rump. With Thomas were two scientific colleagues from the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, Louis Jolyon West and Chester M. Pierce.

297 milligrams is a lot of LSD — about 3000 times the level of a typical human dose. In fact, it remains the largest dose of LSD ever given to a living creature. The researchers figured that, if they were going to give an elephant LSD, they better not give him too little.

Thomas, West, and Pierce later explained that the experiment was designed to find out if LSD would induce musth in an elephant — musth being a kind of temporary madness male elephants sometimes experience during which they become highly aggressive and secrete a sticky fluid from their temporal glands. But one suspects a small element of ghoulish curiosity might also have been involved.

Whatever the reason for the experiment, it almost immediately went awry. Tusko reacted to the shot as if a bee had stung him. He trumpeted around his pen for a few minutes, and then keeled over on his side. Horrified, the researchers tried to revive him, but about an hour later he was dead. The three scientists sheepishly concluded that, "It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD."

In the years that followed controversy lingered over whether it was the LSD that killed Tusko, or the drugs used to revive him. So twenty years later, Ronald Siegel of UCLA decided to settle the debate by giving two elephants a dose similar to what Tusko received. Reportedly he had to sign an agreement promising to replace the animals in the event of their deaths.

Instead of injecting the elephants with LSD, Siegel mixed the drug into their water, and when it was administered in this way, the elephants not only survived but didn't seem too upset at all. They acted sluggish, rocked back and forth, and made some strange vocalizations such as chirping and squeaking, but within a few hours they were back to normal. However, Siegel noted that the dosage Tusko received may have exceeded some threshold of toxicity, so he couldn't rule out that LSD was the cause of his death. The controversy continues.

Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
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incredible poor animals
Posted by niha  on  Thu Nov 22, 2007  at  08:43 AM
:exclaim: Mmm hmm, you hit the nail right on the ole' head there John. Google Louis Jolyon West together with cia or mkultra or bluebird or mkdelta or mksearch or mknaomi etc.
Posted by sfrahm  on  Fri Dec 28, 2007  at  10:34 PM
So we will see elephants soon in drug rehab treatment?
Posted by Mary-anne davis  on  Thu Jan 03, 2008  at  02:39 PM
This looks more like a bad joke. I really hate these experiments on animals. Why did they really need to try to give LSD to an elephant??? What will they do now?
Posted by Drug rehab  on  Fri Jan 11, 2008  at  03:41 PM
Posted by Ada Wakeman  on  Wed Feb 13, 2008  at  08:05 PM
WOW most of you people react ridiculously.

Is it a contradiction to say both there is no evidence of a drugs benefit to me, so it can't be considered good, yet show no explicitly linked proof to a drugs negativity and call it bad.

This animal was given both LSD and sedatives/tranquilizers from my understanding. Given that, there is no way to say for certain it was the LSD.

People have stated within here about programs like and including the MKULTRA program. They EXTENSIVELY tested the effects on mostly willing volunteers, some to the same extent as said elephant.

Given that, and given the fact that sedatives CAN kill both humans and animals alike with overdose' how can you really sit here and demonize something you truly aren't anymore sure about then most of us.

Yes it sucked this elephant had a bad trip.
Yes it sucks that these people committed this act.

To answer the question what knowledge have we gained?

We now have an answer to that question that apparently baffled these scientists "What will happen if you give an elephant too much acid" They figured out what too much was, and they scientifically documented (to a terrible extent) what infact were the results of doing so.

So now the next moron zoo keeper will instead of actually working out his idea in real life, will just continue to imagine it with confirmed documentation. this way its a thought experiment, instead of a theory talked about till needed to be proved :p To that point, you clicked the link, after reading the "shocking" headline -onemorebannerimpressionforthissite-

In the end. Don't do "drugs", stay in school.

Don't trust anyone over 30 😉
Posted by Gergith  on  Sat Apr 05, 2008  at  06:35 PM
It reminds me of a song by Syd Barret, something about an elephant on acid. Too bad the poor fella, Syd didn't get professional help like in a drug rehab clinic in good time, he truly was a genius.
Posted by Kci15  on  Mon Apr 14, 2008  at  01:22 PM
You can't judge this experiment based on today's standards. At the time LSD was a new substance. It was used many times to treat the insane and it's effects on the brain were unknown. The experiment was done in order to test the effects of LSD. Today's ethical standards in the practice of medicine and science were not alway fact looking at the scope of history they are rather recent. Do some research before you condemn someone as a monster.
Posted by Scott  on  Sat Apr 19, 2008  at  08:58 PM
What a very mean experiment, it upsets me greatly. At least I hope today there are no such experiments being carried out on animals. Fair enough if it is something that may help us or animals fight certain diseases etc but this is just shameful.
Posted by drug rehab facility  on  Mon Apr 21, 2008  at  06:41 PM
I just have one further comment.
Can ANYONE explain to me how this even holds a candle in comparison to human testing in WW2?

I mean given that, I think this is a much better area.

At least these men were testing it on an elephant instead of humans

Posted by Gergith  on  Mon Apr 21, 2008  at  10:23 PM
How is that relevant to anything, Gergith? If this article was about WW2 testing, then people would be talking about WW2 testing. This post is about pointless experiments done on elephants. Is it that surprising to hear people discussing, you know, the elephants?

You're like that person who interrupts a argument saying "Won't someone please think of the starving children in Africa!" when what's being discussed has nothing to do with that.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Tue Apr 22, 2008  at  06:23 AM
This really looks like the stupidest experiment I
Posted by Drug Rehab  on  Sun Apr 27, 2008  at  07:08 PM
this has nothing to do with starving children in africa, and i am sorry you aren't smart enough to see the connection.

I am simply saying, you people are horribly concerned that this experiment was done to an elephant some 40 years ago, when the SAME experiments were done to ALOT of humans...

so to say that this is terrible towards an elephant, and ignore the fact the VERY same thing was done to humans en-mass is absolutely retarded

to bring up your starving kids thing..

it would only be like saying, hey cows are starving, and someone bring up, what about starving kids.. thats the parallel.

I am sorry you are too incompetent to understand that?

how can you stop cruelty to animals if we can't even stop that treatment towards our own
Posted by Gergith  on  Sun Apr 27, 2008  at  07:12 PM
But you don't seem to understand the reason why people are discussing elephants and not the experiments done to humans during WW2 is because this article is about elephants. Not human experimentation during WW2. That's why the people here are discussing elephants. If I wanted to discuss WW2 experiments, I would go to a forum about WW2 experiments and talk about it there, where it's relevant. This experiment was not worse, and it was not better, they were both terrible in their own ways.

I also don't see how this is true: "how can you stop cruelty to animals if we can't even stop that treatment towards our own." The obvious answer is to stop being cruel to both humans and animals. It's not mutually exclusive, you know.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Mon Apr 28, 2008  at  06:35 AM
Here's a thought. An elephant doesn't weigh nor have a brain 3000 times larger than a human's. Maybe if they gave him a dose 40 times larger he wouldn't have tripped to death.
Posted by Ted H  on  Sat Aug 23, 2008  at  09:43 PM
i think what happened is the extra large dose made him trip extra hard, so he was acting quite anxious and aggravated, more than usual. so they freaked out and gave him a bigger than normal dose of tranquilizer, causing him to overdose... i doubt the LSD killed him...
Posted by justsumguy  on  Mon Aug 25, 2008  at  06:12 PM
Posted by ELEPHANTS ON ACID  on  Mon Oct 13, 2008  at  12:05 PM
:) oh it looks like elephant is on fire.
Posted by Pink inovation  on  Mon Oct 13, 2008  at  12:33 PM
The Health and Human Sciences Research Institute Showcase will host a variety of research being conducted by the University of Hertfordshire and will be held at the de Havilland Campus from 21-24 October. For further information, please visit: the Showcase website at:
Regards, Richardson
how long does ecstasy stay in your system
Posted by how to detox  on  Wed Oct 22, 2008  at  08:56 AM
ok, if you inject something with lsd it receives the full effect of the entire dose at once. That would horribly freak anything out and arrest needed bodily functions. The fact that they ingested in the second experiement invalidates his claim that it wasn't the lsd that killed the elephants. for those of you that don't know..trips go through stages when orally ingested and follow a rise, peak, level, and fall pattern over a long time period. pack that whole experience into a immediate effect and you wil probably die.
Posted by mason  on  Wed Feb 25, 2009  at  07:49 PM
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