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Bear Cub Gets High on Mad Honey

To paraphrase a well-worn adage… do bears get high in the woods?

Brown bear cub lying on a log

Well yes, it seems they do. A brown bear cub has been found intoxicated in a wood in Turkey, after eating “mad honey”.

According to The Guardian, a disoriented bear cub was found by park rangers under the influence of “mad honey” in the northwestern city of Düzce, in Turkey. Mad honey, or “deli bal” in Turkish, is produced in small quantities by beekeepers in the Kaçkar mountains above the Black Sea – and nowhere else in the world.

A type of rhododendron honey, this sticky stuff can have hallucinogenic effects on anyone (or thing) who eats it. It is known to produce a potent neurotoxin called grayanotoxin. In fact, a small spoonful is enough to induce a mildly hallucinogenic or euphoric state.

Indeed, 18th century Europeans called it miel fou, importing it from the Ottomans to add to ale for an extra buzz.

Happily, no bears were harmed in the making of this story – she was taken to a vet for treatment. Officials say the animal is now in a good condition and will probably be released into the wild in the coming days. And the story has gained such national attention that they’ve put out a call for name suggestions for the cub, who is now presumably a bear with a sore head.

Want to see what a bear high on mad honey looks like, see this 90 second BBC clip:

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