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?

Previously: Getting Out The Vote, Filling Up the Hip Flask, and Teaching Little Johnny to Drink

by Christen McCurdy
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Christen McCurdy is a freelance journalist who lives in Portland, Oregon with too many kitchen gadgets and craft supplies. She penned Bitch Media’s “Lady Liquor” guest-blog series on women and alcohol.

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22 Comments Have Been Posted

Really, Bitch? I don't read

Really, Bitch? I don't read you to get a break from gender analysis. The rest of the Internet is for that.

Sadly, the first video is a

Sadly, the first video is a hoax. The people who made the video used tranqualizers to get the animals to do that.

That's interesting. I

That's interesting. I mentioned that I doubted the veracity of the narrators' claims (the first article I linked doesn't reference the video specifically, but explains why it's probably not what it appears to be) but haven't read anything about tranquilizers being used. Do you have a link?


<p>I second the first opinion.
Can we step back from down-right Animal abuse and focus on feminist issues?!
This reads as if it was written by some drunk college kid......Which, it probably was...</p>

I'm interested in the more

I'm interested in the more serious implications of the idea that a desire for intoxication is universal, and plan to explore that further in a future post.

Why didn't you just do that

Why didn't you just do that in the first place instead of post a bunch of videos of animal abuse?


Ethanol is toxic to dogs. Anyone who would willingly feed it to a dog is at best, ignorant and at worst, an asshole.

That's why I passed over the

That's why I passed over the videos of frat boys feeding their dogs beer (there are plenty of these). Ethanol is toxic to everybody, but the smaller your liver, the worse off you are. Animals that voluntarily seek out intoxicants (or have been sedated for medical reasons) are a different story, at least from my POV.

That is abuse of animals. Not

That is abuse of animals. Not funny at all. should be prosecuted. Outrageous that this labeled cute. you support animal abuse by framing it cute. do you really want that responsibility?

I invite you to look at this

I invite you to look at this from a feminist perspective.How we view and treat animals is a feminist issue. Feminist Ethics from the Stanford Encyclopiedia of Philosophy:"Part of the reason why our world is characterized by injustice, lack of care, and huge socioeconomic disparities between different people is that we treat the natural world with indifference and sometimes even contempt, say ecofeminists. We stockpile weapons of mass destruction, consume energy resources as if they were infinite, dump waste into our waters, and slaughter animals for meat we really do not need to eat. In so doing, we manifest our belief that it is our right to control nature to create a better world for ourselves. But we are suffering from a delusion in our feverish attempt to dominate nature, says Ynestra King. Nature is rebelling and the human species is setting its own annihilation in motion as it detrees forests and extinguishes animal species."(Ynestra King, “Healing the Wounds: Feminism, Ecology, and Nature/Culture Dualism,” 1995). My point being, this disregard and destructive behavior by people to animals for the sake of cuteness is, to my mind, against feminist ethics and certainly against ecofeminism.

Does the free will of animals

Does the free will of animals not enter into this at all? It's nigh impossible to dispute that there are in fact animals who know what they're doing and enjoy getting intoxicated, as they will go out of their way to repeat behaviors that lead to intoxication given the opportunity (I've seen this done by numerous pets, and it isn't hard to find others' anecdotes to this effect.) I can't say if that's the case with all these videos (if one believes the text accompanying them it would seem to be so in several) but the suggestion that ever permitting any animal to consume intoxicants is destructive or abusive is a prudish denial of non-humans' capacity to have preferences and make decisions, which seems counter to the principles you are espousing.

Animals will also eat

Animals will also eat chocolate which can be very harmful, even fatal, to them. I find it very disturbing to see humans encouraging animals to consume alcohol or drugs which can cause them harm or lead the animal into situations where they may be hurt due to poor motor skills or poor judgement. not cute.

not cool, Bitch

as a Bitch subscriber for five years, and a vegan and sober feminist, I find this post incredibly distasteful.

non-human animals are NOT for your entertainment. watching animals get intoxicated is disturbing and entitled.

where is social justice? where is politics in this? this makes me so, so uncomfortable, and not proud that it's a post on a magazine that I love so much.

I'd like to see this taken off Bitch. It belongs on or some other site that caters to "humor" that furthers dominant and drinking culture. I'm really disappointed.

cute animal videos are

cute animal videos are anti-feminist and oppressive and your post and comments show no serious thought about intoxication or drinking culture whatsoever.

How are cute animal videos

How are cute animal videos anti-feminist and oppressive? THAT sounds like an article that would be Bitch-appropriate and worth reading.

its too bad that the first

its too bad that the first video is a hoax, and actual abuse, but I don't see a problem with the other ones- its made clear that the animals had agency in seeking out the intoxicants. I would not call this 'oppressive' or 'anti-feminist' I would call it a nice break from politics overload.
Also, I am really enjoying the other article from this series, keep it coming!

This is nauseating

what kind of drivel is this? i thought bitch mag was better than this. to whoever wrote this blog post: do you really think it's cute or funny for humans to exploit their power over domesticated animals by getting them drunk? I don't have any stories about animals getting "sauced" or "stoned" because I don't mistreat my pets, thank you very much. my pets are part of my family. I don't laugh at a child smoking cigarettes that were bought and given to him by his negligent parents (that's also on youtube in case you, whoever wrote this blog post, want to look it up and want to laugh at someone else's expense)

Consent/free will can be a

Consent/free will can be a gray area with non-humans, but as the author points out, some animals LIKE getting intoxicated and will seek it out. It's well-documented that some species including cattle and rabbits will look for and repeatedly ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms growing wild. I have a cat who loves to get stoned -- if she hears me getting out my "materials" she'll come running, perch on the arm of the couch and wait to have smoke blown in her face. Say what you will about thoroughbred horse racing, but there are champion race horses who regularly get multiple bottles of beer a day mixed in with their feed (probably not enough to get them drunk, but since one of them is sometimes worth millions of dollars, what goes into their feeding is obviously not chosen lightly or without considering its health implications.) I don't condone doing anything to endanger animals' health, and I do agree that this piece is somewhat out-of-character for Bitch though I don't mind the occasional deviation, but some of your criticisms are misguided here.

Since this post is still up

Since this post is still up and Bitch has not addressed it, I will be moving along. Can't support any kind of animal abuse. Happy Trails to you all. Stand up for animal welfare. These animals, most of whom are domesticated, deserve care and respect. This is ugly. I won't be reading this magazine again unless you at the magazine address this.

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Animals are creature that

Animals are creature that should be respected with their co-existence with us!!

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