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The Dirty Truth of the Cocaine Bear

The Dirty Truth of the Cocaine Bear

The Dirty Truth of the Cocaine Bear

“Cocaine bear” could easily be a slang term, up there with “drug mule.” But it has a much more literal meaning, referring to a storied black bear who died from a massive cocaine overdose. 

The story is intriguing enough that it inspired a new movie scheduled for a 2022 release. 

Was the cocaine bear even real, though? And will the movie be good?

Let’s find out!

The Cocaine Bear Movie

The movie “Cocaine Bear” takes inspiration from an event in 1985. Actor-director Elizabeth Banks, known for directing “Pitch Perfect 2” and the 2019 movie reboot of “Charlie’s Angels,” is directing the film. Jimmy Warden, whose only film writing credit is 2020’s “The Babysitter: Killer Queen,” is writing the script. According to IMDB, Keri Russell, Ray Liotta, and Margo Martindale are the top-billed actors on the project. 

The Guardian reports that the movie will focus not so much on the bear itself as on the human involved. Andrew Thornton, a corrupt narcotics officer who’d been smuggling drugs in Georgia by plane. When the plane began having engine trouble, Thornton jettisoned the powdery cargo and jumped out of the plane. His parachute didn’t open, and his body was found 50 miles later in Knoxville, TN. 

Police arrested Thornton in 1981, but freed him, thinking he’d lead them to other smugglers. News stories say “Cocaine Bear” centers on Thornton’s story, and it’s unknown how many appearances the bear will actually make.

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Bear sleeping on a log.
With a new movie coming to theatres, the story of the Cocaine Bear is sure to intrigue you.

Is the Story True?

The story is true that a bear consumed part of a duffel bag full of cocaine that Thornton dropped out of the plane. However, Internet hoax-buster Snopes.com says the bear consumed less than a pound of the drug, much less than the 75 pounds reported in some versions of the event.

However much the bear ate, it was not the joyful send-off some might think. Rather, the medical examiner reports finding “cerebral hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, renal failure, heart failure, and stroke.”

BEar waving.
You can visit the original Cocaine Bear in Lexington, Kentucky.

Can I Visit the Original Cocaine Bear?

Yes. The bear, renamed Pablo EskoBear, is on display at the Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington, Kentucky. He wears a sign cautioning people not to do drugs, lest they end up dead and stuffed.

Pro Tip: Pable EskoBear might not be breaking into your RV, but this is What You Can Do If A Bear Break Into Your RV!

Will Cocaine Bear, the Movie, Be Worth Watching?

The story of Andrew Thornton has been well-covered in other media, namely a book titled “The Bluegrass Conspiracy: An Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs & Murder” by Sally Denton.

It’s unlikely a new feature film could add anything to the story, especially without a more experienced writer involved.

The story of the Cocaine Bear is definitely an uncommon and ultimately sad one to hear. It’s one piece in the story of a greedy, corrupt federal agent. That said, Pablo EskoBear is still a great photo op, though it’s unlikely that the new feature film will contribute much to his lore.

Will you watch the Cocaine Bear movie when it’s released?

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