A bear that swallowed over 70lbs of cocaine which was flung from a drug smugglers plane is set to be remembered in a movie directed by actress Elizabeth Banks.
The 175-pound black bear was found next to a duffel bag that had once been filled with cocaine before it was hurled from a plane in 1985.
Now, the wild story of the animal dubbed the 'Cocaine Bear' is set to be turned into a Hollywood movie to tell the story of how the poor beast died after smuggler Andrew Thornton, the son of wealthy Kentucky horse breeders, threw the drugs across Georgia.
Thornton, a former lawyer and narcotics police officer, had been on a cocaine-smuggling run in a Cessna from Colombia and was dropping packages off in northern areas of the state.
According to Georgia Bureau of Investigations, the smuggler fell to his death when he jumped out of the plane and “hit his head on the tail of the aircraft” and failed to open his parachute.
When his body was found in a neighbourhood driveway in Knoxville, Tennessee, Thornton was wearing night-vision goggles, a bulletproof vest and Gucci loafers. He also had $4,500 in cash on him, two guns, several knives and a key to the plane.
The unoccupied aircraft he was flying was later found crashed several hours away in the mountains of North Carolina.
Authorities then retraced the plane’s flight path and discovered nine duffel bags full of cocaine.
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Three months after Thornton’s death, the dead bear and the tenth duffel bag, were found south of the state line between Tennessee and Georgia in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Now stuffed, the animal, which has been named Pablo Eskobear after Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar, is an unlikely tourist attraction at the “Kentucky For Kentucky” mercantile store in Lexington, Kentucky.
They got their hands on it after an exhaustive cross-country search, and detail its bizarre history on their website.
“Its stomach was literally packed to the brim with cocaine. There isn’t a mammal on the planet that could survive that,” the medical examiner who performed the bear’s necropsy told the company’s founders.
“Cerebral hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, renal failure, heart failure, stroke. You name it, that bear had it.”
The bear was eventually taxidermied and donated to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, where it was displayed at a visitor centre.
It then went into storage during a wildfire, before ending in a Nashville pawn shop.
From there it was bought by country music star Waylon Jennings, who gifted it to his friend, Ron Thompson in Las Vegas.
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When Ron passed away in 2009, his estate was auctioned off and Cocaine Bear was bought by Chinese immigrant Zhu T’ang for $200.
When Mr T’ang died in 2012 the owners of Kentucky For Kentucky contacted his widow and she agreed to give them Cocaine Bear, if they paid for its shipping.
The movie Cocaine Bear is based on an untitled script written by Jimmy Warden and may begin shooting this summer.
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