Five minutes into the acid trip, Tusko trumpeted, collapsed and lost bowel control. The 7,000-pound elephant’s limbs trembled and his brain entered a dangerous state of persistent seizure.
An hour and 40 minutes after the injection of lysergic acid diethylamide, the 14-year-old elephant died. Dr. Louis Jolyon “Jolly” West, then professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry, Neurology and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, documented the 1962 experiment in the journal Science.
“It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD ” a finding which may prove to be valuable in elephant-control work in Africa,” West co-wrote with Chester Pierce, then chief of psychiatry at Veterans Administration hospital, and Warren Thomas, the zoo’s director. “The death of Tusko suggests the nature of the danger, and the most likely cause of death should a lethal overdose be taken by a human.”
Both West and Pierce had taken LSD prior to Tusko’s injection, The Oklahoman reported. West said he conducted LSD research through a grant from a private medical research group partially funded by the CIA. West was a CIA contract employee, according to the book “Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD” by Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain.
West was studying musth ” a so-called “mating madness” that causes male elephants to become enraged for weeks ” theorizing it might be related to sticky, brown secretions from the temporal gland, The Oklahoman reported. “Rob Collins