Intoxicated Bear Stoned on "Hallucinogenic Honey" Rescued by Rangers
It feasted on “mad honey,” which is produced by bees from rhododendron flowers.
It got drunker than the average bear: A loopy bear cub became intoxicated after stuffing itself with "mad honey," and the thoroughly wasted youngster had to be rescued in Turkey last week. Read on to find out what ingredient makes "mad honey" so intoxicating, even hallucinogenic—spoiler: it affects humans too—and what became of the fuzzy little glutton.
According to the Telegraph, a young brown bear was found "visibly intoxicated and disoriented" and "in a stupor on the side of a mountain" on the coast of Turkey's Black Sea. Turns out the bear had gone on a honey binge—and not just Winnie the Pooh's family-friendly variety. It was deli bal, or "mad honey," which is produced by bees from rhododendron flowers. Rescuers were called, who loaded the poor bear into the back of a pick-up truck, where it "rolled its head and whimpered." Perhaps next-day regret isn't species-exclusive.
Initially, the bear was exhausted and barely able to move, said Mevlut Sanli Simsek, an official with Turkey's Nature Conservation and National Parks department. But after a visit to the vet, her condition improved quickly. "Our teams brought her to the veterinarian, where we started the treatment process. She is in very good health. We plan to release her back to her natural environment when she regains her health."
Said veterinarian Murat Unlu: "The bear is much better compared to the day she first came. She can eat and walk. Hopefully, when the bear regains her health completely in the coming days, we will leave her with her mother."
On Twitter, Turkey's department of agriculture invited people to come up with a name for the bear.
According to the Telegraph, some types of rhododendron bushes contain a substance called grayanotoxin. Upon consuming it, both animals and humans can become intoxicated, experiencing hallucinations, dizziness—even temporary paralysis.
The Telegraph points out that there are accounts of humans eating mad honey—and, frankly, getting turnt—in antiquity. One of the earliest: Greek soldier and philosopher Xenophon recalled what happened when Greek army members sampled it as they marched through Turkey in 401BC. They became disoriented, couldn't stand up, and vomited, he wrote. "Those who had eaten a little were like people exceedingly drunk, while those who had eaten a great deal seemed like crazy, or even, in some cases, dying men," he wrote.
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Mad honey is widely available online. According to a 2018 study published in the journal RSC Advances, mad honey has long been commonly used as an aphrodisiac and as a folk medicine to soothe stomachs and treat high blood pressure. But be careful: the study notes that effects can include "dizziness, blurred vision, diplopia, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, headache, sweating/excessive perspiration, extremity paresthesia, impaired consciousness, convulsion, hypersalivation, ataxia, inability to stand, and general weakness." Fortunately, no fatalities have been attributed to the sweet stuff since the 1800s.