Wait, Cocaine Bear Is Based On A Real Story?

The trailer for the movie Cocaine Bear promises a film just as wild as that title entails. It is, just as it says on the tin, a story of a bear that ingests cocaine and goes just as crazy as you don’t want to see a massive and potentially violent beast get. Of course, the only thing crazier than the premise of Cocaine Bear is that the entire story actually happened, more or less.

Yes, once upon a time, there was an actual cocaine bear. The trailer for the film says it was inspired by true events and that’s certainly the case. While the majority of the ultra violent and bloody story of the movie is fiction, the bear that got high on cocaine really happened.

The True Story of Cocaine Bear

As summarized by the New York Times, the actual events took place in December 1985. A convicted drug smuggler named Andrew Thornton was apparently flying over the Georgia-Tennessee border when some amount of cocaine dropped from the plane. Thornton died in an apparent accident while parachuting with too heavy of a load. Over 300 pounds of cocaine were found in a wide search covering the area surrounding Thornton’s body and the wrecked plane he had been in. It was during this search that the bear’s body was found. It had been dead for about three months at the time.

The black bear that ingested the cocaine was only found in the mountains of Fannin County, Ga after it had died of an overdose, surrounded by 40 plastic containers shown to have traces of cocaine. A necropsy performed found three to four grams of cocaine in the bloodstream of the bear. So there was no cocaine bear rampage, all of that is the creation of the movie. It’s ultimately a tragic death for Cocaine Bear.

What Happened To The Cocaine Bear

Interestingly, the story of the cocaine bear doesn’t apparently end there. While it has not been independently verified, a mall in Kentucky claims to be in possession of the taxidermied remains of the cocaine bear. Apparently, the medical examiner who performed the necropsy realized the bear’s body was in good cosmetic shape, despite having suffered every conceivable manner of organ failure from having a body full of cocaine, so he contacted a friend who did taxidermy. 

The bear was given to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area where it was put on display, though apparently without referencing how the bear had come to get there. In the early ‘90s the bear was reportedly put into storage, where it disappeared.

A Nashville area pawn shop owner claims to have come into possession of the bear (he did reportedly have other stolen items from the CRRA storage at the time) and that he sold the bear to country singer Waylon Jennings, who gave it to a friend, then it was sold at auction. Eventually the mall tracked down the bear and the mall was able to get possession of it.

Certainly, it’s less than perfectly clear if this is the actual cocaine bear, but for an animal that died in such a bizarre way, it’s equally bizarre afterlife would only be fitting. The only thing perhaps more fitting would be an absolutely insane Cocaine Bear violent comedy that supposes what might have happened if the bear had survived and gone on a rampage. Check out everything we know about the Cocaine Bear movie ahead of its release next month.

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