Meet Balkiz, a bear cub in Turkey who got high on hallucinogenic honey

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Like a real Winnie the Pooh, a brown bear in Turkey gobbled up some honey last week. But unlike the beloved children’s book character, the cub flew as high as a kite on the sweet, golden treat.

The reason? It was hallucinogenic ‘crazy honey’, known in Turkish as ‘deli bal’.

turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said the young bear was rescued Thursday after being found unconscious in northwestern Duzce province, about 130 miles east of Istanbul. Aside from the bad trip, the female cub was in good shape after a stay in a veterinary care center.

Somehow the bear got its paws on an inordinate amount of deli ball, which has been cultivated for centuries by beekeepers in the Black Sea region and the Himalayas. The substance – also known as bitter honey because of its pungent taste – is the result of bees feeding on the pollen of rhododendron flowers. The brightly colored plants carry a natural neurotoxin called greyanotoxin which, when consumed, can cause euphoria, hallucinations and intoxication – as the bear soon discovered.

A video shared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry showed the bear in its completely crushed state. In the back of a pickup truck, she sat belly up with her limbs stretched out in what could be described as a vertical trench. Her mouth was slightly open. Her eyes wide. For a few seconds she wobbled around dazed and confused.

The clip quickly turned the cub into a local celebrity. After tapping citizens for name ideas, the government agency introduced her Friday as Balkiz — meaning “cute girl” or “cute daughter” in Turkish — along with a photo of the now sober bear posing on a branch with a half-eaten watermelon. to the ground.

Although Balkiz is the last to experience the symptoms of a mad honey shower, she is not the first to experience it. Thousands of poisoning cases have been reported around the world throughout history.

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According to research by the late Texas A&M anthropology professor Vaughn Bryant, one of the earliest mentions of mad honey came from Athens, who was a student of the philosopher Socrates, Xenophon. The Greek historian wrote that a Greek army discovered the substance in 401 BC. when the troops returned from the Black Sea after a victory over the Persians.

“They decided to feast on local honey stolen from some nearby beehives. Hours later, the troops began vomiting, having diarrhea, becoming disoriented and unable to stand; the next day the effects were gone and they moved on to Greece,” Bryant . said in a 2014 press release.

Other troops were not nearly as lucky. Some 334 years later, Roman soldiers led by Pompey the Great fell upon a honey trap planted by the Persian army, which “collected jars full of local honey and left them for the Roman troops to find,” Bryant said. “They ate the honey, became disoriented and couldn’t fight. The Persian army returned and killed more than 1,000 Roman troops with few casualties of their own.”

Centuries later, Union troops encountered the hallucinogenic honey near the Appalachians during the Civil War era. Like the Greeks and Romans before them, Americans were buzzing and sick, Bryant said.

But crazy honey is incredibly hard to find, the Guardian reported. The rhododendrons that produce the necessary neurotoxins are found in few places and are most productive in mountainous regions of the Black Sea and the foothills of the Himalayas. Harvesters have to go to great lengths to acquire the red-colored junk – they climb tall trees and cliffs and often have to repel one of the largest species of honeybees in the world. However, the return on those risks is high. A pound of crazy honey can cost nearly $170, Bryant said. In Turkey, a pound of high-quality potent deli ball can be sold for up to 2,000 lira, or about $111, making it some of the most expensive honey in the world, the Guardian noted.

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The price also reflects the medicinal value that some people attribute to the bitter-tasting honey. It is often touted as a natural remedy for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis and sore throat. Some even use it as an aphrodisiac or treatment for erectile dysfunction, according to a 2018 report published in the scientific journal RSC Advances.

But too much of the honey could land people — and bears — in the hospital. Only the bees that produce mad honey are immune to the high. In all other animals, the substance can cause disorienting effects, although these usually last less than 24 hours.

On Friday, Balkiz was released back into the forests near the Balkans – a region whose name translates to the ‘land of honey and blood’.

“God bless the beautiful girl who has captured the hearts of all of us,” Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci wrote on Twitter. An accompanying video showed the brown cub frolicking down a grassy hillside.

“May she eat everything in moderation, even honey,” Kirisci added.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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