Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tusko World Jungle Compound

Does anyone know the handler with Tusko.  Awful young elephant to be giving rides.    This card is dated 1952,  Tusko's first birthday.  In 1961 a male elephant named Tusko, bought from Atterbury Bros. Circus, died at the Oklahoma City Zoo during an insane LSD experiment.

dead 1962-08-03
1 years after arrival 1961-00-00
killed: overdosis of LSD

The Independent
August 6, 2008

The Worlds Weirdest Science Experiments 

Tusko the elephant led a peaceful life at the Oklahoma City Zoo. So, on the morning of Friday 3 August 1962, he could hardly have foreseen that he was about to become the first elephant ever to be given LSD.
The experiment was the brainchild of two doctors at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, Louis Jolyon West and Chester M Pierce, and Warren Thomas, director of the zoo, who wanted to learn more about LSD's pharmacological properties.
LSD is one of the most potent drugs known to medical science. A mere 25 micrograms – less than the weight of a grain of sand – can send a person tripping for half a day. But the researchers figured that an elephant would need more than a person and they didn't want to risk giving too little. They upped the dose to 297 milligrams, about 3,000 times the level of a human dose.
At 8am, Thomas fired a cartridge syringe into Tusko's rump. Tusko trumpeted loudly and began running around his pen. Then he started to lose control of his movements, and toppled over. His eyeballs rolled upward. He started twitching. His tongue turned blue.
The researchers administered 2,800 milligrams of an antipsychotic, which relieved the violence of the seizures a little. Eighty minutes later, Tusko was still lying panting on the ground. Desperate, the researchers injected a barbiturate, but it didn't help. A few minutes later, Tusko died.
What had happened? Had the LSD concentrated somewhere in Tusko's body, increasing its toxicity? Were elephants allergic to LSD? The researchers had no clue. An autopsy determined that Tusko died from asphyxiation – his throat muscles had swollen, preventing him from breathing. But why his throat muscles had done this, the researchers didn't know. In an article published a few months later in Science, they simply noted: "It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD."

This story states Tusko was 14 when he died:

Daily Mail
November 2006

Forty-five years ago, two psychiatrists administered history's largest dose of LSD to Tusko, a three-and-a-half ton elephant.
The 14-year-old male was given enough acid to make 3,000 people hallucinate, in a bizarre bid to find out whether it would trigger a temporary form of madness called musth, in which bull elephants become sexually aggressive.
Whatever the intentions of the University of Oklahoma researchers, the experiment backfired within seconds of the drug being injected into Tusko's rump on a hot August day in 1962.
The horrified creature trumpeted round its pen in Oklahoma City's Lincoln Park Zoo for a few minutes, before keeling over and dying shortly afterwards.
Faced with a public outcry, researchers Louis Jolyon West and Chester M Pierce noted they had taken the LSD in the past without fatal consequences - and suggested the drug could be used to destroy herds in countries where they cause a problem.

Do you elephant researchers know of any other "Tusko's"  beside the original, which this one is not, the one currently at the Portland Zoo, which this one is not?  A 3 year difference in the date on the card, and the age given in the above story, but a lot of ages were "guessed" at back in the day of jungle captures.


Tom Wilds said...

This could well be Norman Tyndall, brother of chip trainer Henry who was know for his movie chimps. Norman, as I recall preferred camels. Also,I'll bet this was but a PR shot,

Ryan Easley said...

These two are definitely not the same animals. Bandwagon's elephant census, published in 1960, lists both:

TUSKO ( BIMBO ), Indian
1951-1959 - World Jungle Compound, Thousand Oaks, California from India

TUSKO, Indian Male
1959 - Diano Bros. Circus

I cannot find any more information about the California kid, other than a feature on Art Baker's "You Asked For It!" broadcast in 1955. Emma and Tusko of the World Jungle Compound were featured with Mel Koontz.

More information is given for the latter in the May/June 1962 issue of Bandwagon. Tony Diano purchased Tusko & Betty from the Bronx Zoo in 1952. Both were part of the 13 elephant herd on the Cristiani Bros. Circus in 1958. The 1961, Tusko was sold to Bob Atterbury and to the zoo the same year.

I am confused about the Tusko / Bimbo connection with the name as cited in the Bandwagon Census. Did this elephant have something to do with the Bimbo on Kay Bros. Circus in 1962, DeWayne Bros. Circus in 1969 or the Bimbo Geraldine Mosley purchased in 1969?