The True Story Behind ‘Cocaine Bear,’ When A Black Bear Ate 70 Pounds Of Cocaine

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Once upon a time in the dense woods of Kentucky, USA, a curious black bear embarked on an adventure that would seal its fate and catapult it into legend. It was 1985, and as fate would have it, this poor creature would stumble upon a most unusual stash: 70 pounds of cocaine. This is the unbelievable yet true story of Cocaine Bear, an unwitting victim of circumstance.

The tale begins with Andrew Thornton, a former narcotics officer turned drug smuggler. He was no ordinary smuggler; Thornton was a member of the so-called “Company,” a notorious drug-smuggling ring with roots in Lexington, Kentucky. This operation was responsible for smuggling vast quantities of drugs into the United States, hidden within the bellies of racehorses.

One fateful day in September, Thornton embarked on a drug run, carrying a heavy payload of cocaine. As he soared through the skies in his Cessna, his plan was to drop the illicit cargo into the Georgia wilderness, where it would be collected by his accomplices. However, things took a disastrous turn when Thornton’s parachute failed, and he plummeted to his death, leaving the drugs scattered across the lush landscape.

Enter our unwitting protagonist, the black bear. As it roamed through the woods, it came across a veritable feast in the form of 40 plastic containers filled with white powder. The bear, presumably thinking it had discovered a delicious treat, wasted no time in tearing into the packages and consuming their contents.

As you might imagine, ingesting 70 pounds of cocaine is not something any living being should attempt. The poor creature’s heart began to race, and its body temperature soared to dangerous heights. The bear, now undoubtedly experiencing the most intense high of its life, succumbed to the effects of the cocaine and perished in the woods.

It wasn’t long before authorities discovered the bear’s lifeless body, along with the remnants of the drug cache. An autopsy revealed that the bear had died from an overdose of cocaine, and the news quickly spread, turning the unfortunate animal into a legend. The media dubbed the creature “Cocaine Bear,” and its story captured the public’s imagination.

In the years since Cocaine Bear’s demise, the creature has become something of a cultural icon. Its stuffed remains were initially displayed at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia, where it served as a cautionary tale about the dangers of drug use. However, the bear’s final resting place would be far from the forest where it met its tragic end.

Cocaine Bear was eventually purchased by a Chinese businessman, who put it on display in his traditional medicine shop. It is said that he believed the bear’s extraordinary story would attract customers, and he was not wrong. The story of Cocaine Bear continued to spread, and the shop became a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

In 2015, Kentucky-based artist Coleman Larkin came across the story of Cocaine Bear and decided it was time for the creature to return home. He purchased the bear from the Chinese businessman and had it shipped back to the United States. Upon its return, Larkin created a small shrine to Cocaine Bear in his art studio, complete with candles, flowers, and an assortment of cocaine-themed paraphernalia. The shrine became a local attraction, drawing visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the legendary bear.

As the story of Cocaine Bear grew, it captured the attention of Hollyweird, leading to the announcement of a feature film in 2021. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, the movie promised to explore the wild, larger-than-life story of Cocaine Bear and its unwitting collision with the dangerous world of drug smuggling. While the film was still in development at the time of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the public eagerly anticipated its release.

The story of Cocaine Bear is a cautionary tale that speaks to the far-reaching consequences of the illegal drug trade. It is a story filled with tragedy, humour, and a touch of the surreal—a testament to the strange and unpredictable ways in which our lives can intersect.

In the end, Cocaine Bear serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between man and nature, and the unforeseen consequences our actions can have on the world around us. Whether viewed as a cautionary tale or an emblem of human folly, the legend of Cocaine Bear endures as a potent symbol of the thin line between curiosity and catastrophe.

So the next time you venture into the woods, remember the tale of Cocaine Bear, a creature whose innocent curiosity led to its tragic end. And if you happen to stumble upon a suspicious package in the underbrush, think twice before digging in, lest you share the same fate as our unfortunate furry friend.

– End

Shaun Zietsman

Blogger and Content Creator from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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