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Can Elephants Get Tipsy on Marula Fruit?

Are you familiar with the Marula tree?  If not, it’s a beautiful African tree that produces wonderful and tasty fruits!

The Marula fruit and nut have been an important source of nutrition in Africa for generations.  The oil extracted from the Marula nut (pure Marula Oil is available from all Holland & Barrett stores nationwide and online) is rich in protein and has a rejuvenating effect on your skin whilst the fruit has eight times more Vitamin C than an orange, so it can give you a healthy glow both inside and out.

Marula Oil by John Paul Selects
Marula Oil by John Paul Selects

In the wild, elephants are among many species that devour the marula fruit and it’s even used by the locals for making jam, wine, beer and even a liquor called “Amarula” (very tasty by the way, a little like Bailey’s).

But that’s where the connection between elephants, marula and alcohol ends.

This long standing myth that African elephants get tiddly on fermented marula fruit was popularized in the 1974 documentary “Animals are Beautiful People.”  

The footage became an immediate hit and since then millions of people are still persuaded that elephants do indeed get drunk on this “potent” fruit.

Some smaller animals can get drunk from fermented fruit but sceptics have alleged that the supposed drunkenness of the animals from fermented marula was totally staged in the movie, after alcohol had been added to their food.  An outstanding thought nowadays as obviously incredibly unethical if true!

And to put this myth to bed, scientists have disproved the theory of inebriated elephants getting drunk off rotting marula fruit on the ground in a study published in the Journal of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology in 2006.

Steve Morris, a biologist at Bristol University told Smithsonian Magazine, “Elephants do have a taste for alcohol, but when scientists sat down to look at the claim, they found several problems.  First, the elephants don’t eat the rotten fruit off the ground.  They eat the fresh fruit right off the tree.  Second, the fresh fruit doesn’t spend enough time in the elephant to ferment and produce alcohol there.  And, third, even if the elephant did eat rotten fruit, the animal would have to eat 1,400 pieces of exceptionally fermented fruit to get drunk.”

So now we have dispelled this misconception, and on a light hearted note, I wanted to share this cocktail recipe with you.  Please drink responsibly!

Brown Elephant

2oz Amarula cream liqueur

3oz Milk

3oz Cola (Coke)

Shake the Amarula and milk with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Add the cola to the shaker and stir slightly.  Strain into a parfait glass full of ice.  Lightly dust with cinnamon, and serve.

Brown Elephant Cocktail with Amarula
Brown Elephant Cocktail with Amarula

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