Ed note: This story turned out to be a hoax, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining. Today the AP posted a correction stating that Paris Hilton never made any comments about helping drunken elephants. Makes you wonder how the story hit the wires in the first place. Just goes to show you can’t believe everything you read.
Paris Hilton was applauded by conservationists today for lending her celebrity to a truly important cause: binge-drinking elephants. Hilton’s involvement comes on the heels of an incident in north-eastern India last month when 40 elephants broke into a farm, slurped up an extremely-strong batch of home-brewed rice beer and went “berserk,” knocking over electrical pylons and electrocuting six of the pachyderms in the process. “The elephants get drunk all the time. It is becoming really dangerous. We need to stop making alcohol available to them,” the heiress was quoted saying. (The same could be said for Paris’ former BFF Britney Spears.)
Whether she intended to or not, Hilton’s point highlights a greater conservation concern for elephants, said Soumyadeep Dutta, who heads Nature’s Beckon, a regional conservation group. Elephants, drunk or not, are becoming a greater risk to humans (and vice versa) in rural areas such as north-eastern India, where people are rapidly transforming elephants’ forest habitat into farmland. This has cut into the beasts’ food supply and, in the last few years, increased the chance of villagers running into a herd of hungry animals.—Bjorn Carey