‘Cocaine Bear’ Is the True Story of a Real-Life Party Animal

Elizabeth Banks is all set to direct a new movie about the real-life cocaine bear, currently entitled, yep, Cocaine Bear. The actress who’s known for playing Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games is no stranger to the director’s chair, having won a Golden Rasberry for Worst Director for her hand in Movie 43. Insiders last reported Banks was tapped to helm a remake of The Invisible Woman for Universal Pictures but must have found the story of a cocaine-addled bear more intriguing. Obviously.

Here’s how the legend goes.

It was 1985, the height of the Regan-era war on drugs and, you guessed it, debaucherous drug use. A former narcotics officer turned drug smuggler had just moved a massive amount of Colombian cocaine into Kentucky and was parachuting from his plane when the unthinkable happened. His parachute didn’t open.

The smuggler’s body was found slightly more flattened than usual atop a Knoxville driveway, with a 77-pound bag of pure cocaine on his person. The plane he’d left on autopilot was discovered about 60 miles away in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, where the legend of the cocaine bear begins.

What happened next is between god and the bear, but evidence suggests the bacchanal bear came upon a second bag of cocaine weighing approximately 75 pounds. Having nowhere else to be that day, the bear did what any self-respecting party animal would do in that situation: He ate the entire bag. The sheer quantity of Colombian gold he’d ingested would help explain how a 175-pound bear was able to travel another 60 miles to Chattahoochee National Park before his heart exploded from the biggest overdose in black bear history.

Today the legend continues, not only as a new movie but as the stuffed remains of a legendary party animal found inside local curio shop, the Kentucky Fun Mall. Renamed Pablo Escobear and gifted a sweet new trucker hat in 2015, we’d like to think the story of the cocaine bear has a happy ending.

If you love the story of the coke cub as much as Elizabeth Banks, check out these other party animals getting high in the wild. They may just inspire you on your next trip to the park.

Cover Photo: Mary Ann McDonald (Getty Images)

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