Cocaine Bear, Explained: The Bizarre Story of a Wild Bear That Overdosed on Smuggled Coke
"Cocaine bear" has been trending on social media after details about a movie based on the wacky real-life story of how an unlucky bear OD'd on coke were announced earlier this week.
Below, here's everything we know about the bizarre story of "cocaine bear."
What Is Cocaine Bear?
In 1985, a wild 175-pound black bear got his paws on a package of smuggled cocaine. People nicknamed the unlucky mammal "Pablo EskoBear."
Unfortunately, the wild bear was found dead in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest following a cocaine overdose after consuming the narcotic. The medical examiner who performed a necropsy (animal autopsy) on the bear was stunned by his findings.
"Its stomach was literally packed to the brim with cocaine," he told Kentucky For Kentucky. "There isn't a mammal on the planet that could survive that. Cerebral hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, renal failure, heart failure, stroke. You name it, that bear had it."
The incident took place in Georgia, but also has ties to Tennessee and Kentucky.
The bear was later taxidermied and had several owners before being sold to the Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington, where he is now a tourist attraction.
How Did Cocaine Bear Get Coke?
The bear ingested the illegal substance after cocaine smuggler, Andrew C. Thorton II, dropped duffel bags filled with cocaine before parachuting out of a plane. After coming across the parcels in the woods, the bear ingested more than 80 pounds of the party drug.
The bear was found just south of the Tennessee-Georgia state line, three months after the drop. Apparently, the bear managed to open the tenth drug bag before dying next to it.
What Happened to Andrew C. Thorton II?
Andrew C. Thorton II was a Lexington narcotics police officer before switching careers and becoming a lawyer. In 1981, he was accused of conspiring to smuggle half a ton of marijuana into the U.S. and stealing weapons from a naval base before becoming a fugitive and being arrested. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a pistol at the time of his arrest. He managed to only get six months in prison, a suspended law license and a fine.
The bear incident took place in 1985 while Thorton was on a smuggling run from Columbia, when he dropped the cocaine in Georgia from his plane. He parachuted out the aircraft but his parachute got tangled and the fall ended up killing him.
His body landed on a driveway in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Who's Working on the Cocaine Bear Movie?
Elizabeth Banks will direct a Universal Pictures film based on the cocaine bear story. The Lego Movie filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller will co-produce the thriller. It is reported to premiere sometime in 2022.