Back in 1985 authorities stumbled upon an unfortunate North American black bear who had met a grizzly end in the woods. But what seemed like a somewhat ordinary demise soon unfurled into a much larger conspiracy. It turned out that the beast had stumbled upon a secret that nobody was supposed to find. And that led him to enjoy a last meal that's probably never been sampled by anyone in the animal kingdom before or after.
His legend grows
In a way, this bear is still very much alive, at least in the sense that he's famous. Besides inspiring a Hollywood film in 2023, the mammal's preserved remains have long served as a tourist attraction down south. While he might not look special at first glance, his incredible story has made him into a much sought-after treasure.
A beloved tourist attraction
But why do so many tourists come to visit a taxidermied bear that’s displayed at the Kentucky for Kentucky (KY for KY) Fun Mall? The Lexington-based company’s storeowners employed some great detective work to find their bear — and “Pablo” is now KY for KY’s official mascot. It's almost a miracle he's there at all.
Whisked away from the flames
He didn't seem so remarkable at first. The bear was stuffed and given to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in the 1980s after being discovered in the forest — dead. For years, he remained in the center’s visitor center. When a wildfire threatened the rec area, the staff evacuated themselves and the center’s valuables.
Hopping down to Tennessee
Everything was safely stored in nearby Dalton, Tennessee. The bear and the rest of the goods sat in a storage unit for about a month until mysterious criminals stole the center’s artifacts and sold them to a pawn shop in Nashville. Some of the relics were recovered, but not the black bear.