A bear that gorged itself on hallucinogenic ‘mad honey’ was found slumped on a forest floor in Turkey.
Video footage from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture showed the debilitated baby brown bear wobbling and whining after being rescued by rangers in the Düzce national park and placed in the back of a pick-up truck to be driven to a vet.
It had tripped on ‘mad honey’ or ‘deli bal’ in Turkish – a type of rhododendron honey that can have hallucinogenic effects – and was filmed sat partially slumped over and disoriented.
The bear was taken to a vet, where she was said to be in good condition and receiving treatment. She is likely be released into the wild in the coming days.
According to forester Yasin Oztas, who was among the group that discovered the animal in a slumped state, it was gasping for breath. They took it to the Ducze National Parks and Nature Conservation Branch Directorate.
Mr Oztas said that villagers had reported the day before that a mother and her two cubs were travelling through the area.
He said: “While we were carrying out our forest protection control activities, we saw a bear cub lying on the ground in a lethargic way.”
He added that the group quickly realised that the young cub was unwell.
The ministry said in a statement: “Our baby brown bear, who is exhausted in Duzce, is in good health, and our teams continue their treatment”.
It has asked residents to suggest a suitable name for the bear.
According to bee expert Dr Meral Kekecoglu, the associate director of the Beekeeping Research, Development and Application Centre at Duzce University, ‘mad honey’ has benefits but can also lead to death.
He said that hallucinogenic honey made with chestnut, rhododendron or linden, can have different results depending on the chemical content of the honey.
Dr Kekecoglu added: “If the amount of grayanotoxin is very high, it has a blood pressure lowering effect and even starts to hallucinate the person who consumes it. Therefore, it can reach a very dangerous level in people who consume it. The situation can be very dire.
“It is necessary to be very careful when consuming rhododendron honey. It has benefits, but it can lead to consequences that can lead to death. It is questioned whether it is possible to have such an effect on a bear, but it can. If it creates such an effect even on a bear, think about how much effect it can have on a person when they consume too much.”
Dr Kekecoglu said that when consumed in a controlled way, honey containing gayanotoxins, which are a family of neurotoxins found in various plant species, can help people suffering from hypertension and asthma.
The Turkish General Directorate of Forestry said in a statement: “Our forest rangers on patrol found this ecstatic bear cub. We think it’s had a little too much honey, according to initial estimates.”