The Kentucky store that sells the stuffed animals “Cocaine Bear”Inside Edition Digital is told by resides that the taxidermied animals are “living his best life.”
The Elizabeth Banks-helmed movie is just a few weeks away “Cocaine Bear,”Anne Livengood, sales and marketing manager at Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall says that the store is a great success. “made Cocaine Bear famous.”
“For a long time no one cared about this bear, and he got passed along from hand to hand, and we got a hold of him back in 2015 and just really have taken ahold of his whole crazy past and his whole crazy background. And it’s become a big part of the Kentucky culture and a big part of people come from all over the world to visit him,”She said. “So this story was nuts, so we just kind of ran with it.”
Kentucky Fun Mall Lexington celebrates everything from the “Bluegrass State,” has taken the urban legend of “Cocaine Bear”They made it more than folklore. The story of how the bear was obtained, which is believed to have been the worst drug overdose in American History, is as wild as anything a Hollywood writer’s room could craft.
“We are just a team of really creative kick ass people and honestly, truly, and it was something, it was an idea that stuck, that got tossed around and stuck, and we decided that we had to have Cocaine Bear and that we were going to tell the world his story,”Livengood stated. “And since then it’s just really taken off.”
Andrew Carter Thornton II (a former police officer, turned lawyer, and drug smuggler) was on a trip from Colombia to collect millions of dollars’ worth of white powder in a Cessna aircraft in September 1985.
According to the Daily Mirror: Thornton panicked after the plane began to malfunction, and he reportedly dropped at least 40 boxes of cocaine.
He realized the plane was about to crash and set the autopilot to direct it towards the Atlantic Ocean. Thornton, heavily armed and wearing expensive Gucci shoes and a bulletproof vest, jumped from his aircraft. He also had thousands of dollars worth of cash and a duffel bag with 77 pounds cocaine. According to reports at the time, the street value of the 77 pounds of cocaine that Thornton had strapped onto his body was more than $14,000,000.
Thornton’s parachute failed to open and he fell to his death. The body of Thornton was found in Knoxville by a homeowner.
Thornton’s body was 60 miles from the crash site. Knoxville police connected a key found on his body to the plane and believed Thornton ultimately intended to meet someone on the ground to deliver the cocaine.
He pushed cocaine out of Chattahoochee national forest in northern Georgia. Months later, a 175-pound bear was discovered dead with empty cocaine containers nearby.
According to reports, the bear ingested approximately $15 million worth cocaine.
The animal’s body was stuffed, and it became a tourist attraction at a park at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area park but was put in storage in the early 1990s when a wildfire threatened the area, according to reports.
The bear was among the items taken from the storage facility and eventually ended up for sale. The bear eventually became the property of Waylon Jennings. According to Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, Jennings didn’t know the bear had been stolen.
Jennings bought the bear for Ron Thompson (a friend from Las Vegas), who had a passion for taxidermy. Thompson died in 2009, and many of his personal belongings went up for auction, including the bear according to Kentucky Fun Mall.
Zhu T’ang, a Reno-based Chinese American businessman, purchased the bear at auction for $200. He displayed it in his store. Zhu T’ang’s wife sold the business, but the bear was kept by him, even though he didn’t really like it.
The bear would be sent on to Kentucky Fun Mall’s owners. Zhu T’ang’s wife told them they needed to only pay shipping costs.
The bear has been displayed at the Lexington shop since 2015. It is wearing a backwards cap with a sign around its neck, which includes its origin story and a message for patrons. “Don’t do drugs or you’ll end up dead (and maybe stuffed) like poor ‘Cocaine Bear.’”
“We’ve just been having a lot of fun with it, getting really creative and kind of just creating, giving Cocaine Bear this whole personality and creating this character from it. And so it’s been a lot of fun,”Livengood shared Inside Edition Digital.
She claimed that the bear has received nicknames such “Bear” “Pablo Escobear,” “the biggest party animal,”And of course, “Cocaine Bear.”
Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall expects a lot of tourists and interest to see the bear when the film opens in theaters next year.
“’Cocaine Bear’ has always been a super popular attraction since we got him. Obviously when we got ‘Cocaine Bear,’ we really started promoting and sharing his story to our fan base,”Livengood stated. “We’ve had visitors from all over the world, so that’s been a lot of fun. And then obviously we’ve gotten even more visitors now with the movie coming out that have heard about ‘Cocaine Bear’ now…this really exciting thing that is, everybody wants to see Cocaine Bear now.”
Livengood claims that she and all the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall staff are very happy. “pumped”The movie is not available yet. “Pablo Escobear”He may have an opinion on the attention.
“Well if ‘Cocaine Bear’ could talk, I would say probably due to the cocaine, he would have a lot to say. I think he would be just as jazzed,”She said.