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What’s the true story behind ‘Cocaine Bear’?

Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear explores a very bizarre occurrence in American drug cartel history.

Video transcript

- What's the true story behind "Cocaine Bear?" Elizabeth Banks' "Cocaine Bear" hit cinemas around the world last week. And as the title suggests, the comedy thriller explores a very bizarre occurrence in American drug cartel history.

In December 1985, the "New York Times" reported that a 175-pound black bear apparently died of an overdose of cocaine after discovering a batch in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest. Convicted drug trafficker Andrew Thornton was smuggling a shipment of cocaine in a small plane across Georgia, when he was forced to drop a load of the drugs from the aircraft and evacuate. Thornton was killed during the evacuation when his parachute failed to open.

Upon discovering the discarded drug containers in the National Forest, the black bear managed to ingest $2 million worth of Thornton's trafficked cocaine. After consuming about 40% of its body weight in the drug, the black bear succumbed to a number of fatal medical emergencies. When the real black bear was discovered, it was taxidermied and transported between a number of states for decades before arriving at its final destination in a Kentucky Fun Mall and dubbed Pablo Escobear. So now you know.