In the early 60’s, people in the United States were a bit skeptical of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. Many outlandish accusations were made and the hype drove some to ingest and others to find any method possible to make the drug discredited. Why the psychiatrist Louis Jolyon West and Chester M Pierce decided to jump on the band wagon through an animal drug experiment is unclear.
Perhaps they hoped to somehow associated negative effects of the drug in animals to possible effects in humans. However, their experiment was so unethical that one can only hope they thought such unnerving LSD related news would somehow save a population from what they perceived to be the devastating effects of drug use.
The drug experiment’s vague concept was to watch how a male elephant experiencing the phenomena of being temporarily violent for a few weeks (called being “on musth”) would react to LSD. There was no real reason why they wanted to experiment; administering a drug to a helpless animal must have just seemed like a fun idea at the time.
Therefore, without any sort of justification for their animal drug experiment, the professionals met with Oklahoma City’s Lincoln Park Zoo worker Warren D Thomas, who, apparently having no concern what-so-ever for the possibility of submitting him to an unethical animal drug experiment, agreed to volunteer the fourteen-year-old elephant Tusko.
No one, for possibly obvious reasons, had ever documented such a drug experiment on an elephant before, and this animal being so much larger and psychologically different than a any previous animal subjected to such drugs (humans), the psychiatrists were not sure how much LSD Tusko should be given.
Already a highly unethical animal drug experiment out of principal, they decided to give him enough to drug 3,000 people all at once.
What was the conclusion to this animal drug experiment and what became of Tusko? After five minutes he fell over and died. Nothing was learned from this experiment, not even accidentally or in spite of it’s unethical quality, because it was a moronic thing to do in the first place.
The psychiatrists were not faulted for their unethical experiment, either. They merely concluded that elephants could be effected greatly if the drug LSD were administered and that such information may be valuable if alternative methods of animal control were needed.