The true and unadulterated history of the drop bear, Australia’s most deadly — and most fake — predator

December 18, 2020 Off By admin

Sydney, Australia (CNN) — Ask virtually any Australian a few drop bear, and they’re going to possible recount an in depth encounter with this carnivorous, fanged cousin of the Australian koala.

They may describe how a relative was gravely injured throughout a drop bear assault, or declare {that a} buddy narrowly escaped loss of life at the palms of the vicious carnivore.

And they’re going to all be mendacity. The drop bear doesn’t exist.

Many international locations have a creature which is rumored to exist however is rarely seen — assume dragons, yetis and the Loch Ness monster.

But with the drop bear, there is a twist. No Australian truly believes it exists — it is simply used to scare individuals, usually of the international selection.

Here’s the way it often works: A vacationer is about to go into the bush when an Australian will warn them to “watch out for the drop bears.” When they ask what that’s, the vacationer shall be instructed it’s a vicious, clawed creature that drops unexpectedly from timber.

“You get them looking up at the trees, nervous,” stated Ian Coate, creator and founder of the web site Mythic Australia. “You get such a beautiful reaction, it just appeals to that Aussie sense of humor.”

But some Australians have taken its fake animal hoax to a wholly new degree. The Museum of Australia has created a fake data web page on its web site, which warns of the risks of these fictitious animals.

“Once prey is within view, the Drop Bear will drop as much as eight meters to pounce on top of the unsuspecting victim. The initial impact often stuns the prey, allowing it to be bitten on the neck and quickly subdued,” the web site reads.

Even some Australian celebrities are in on the joke. When CNN Travel requested Australian movie star Chris Hemsworth for recommendation on avoiding drop bears in 2018, he stated: “Bring an umbrella.”

The origins of the drop bear

Despite the drop bear’s recognition and rising worldwide status, its precise origins are unknown.

The drop bear legend does not seem to have been sparked by a selected well-liked guide or movie, for instance. According to the the National Library of Australia, the first look of a drop bear in an Australian newspaper is an innocuous itemizing in “The Canberra Times,” the paper for the nationwide capital, in 1982..

“TAM — Beware of drop bears in the future, for sure, totally love Clint,” a message in the 21st Birthdays column reads. It is not clear who TAM or Clint had been.

Some hint the legend of the drop bear again to a sketch by legendary Australian comic and actor Paul Hogan (greatest recognized to foreigners as Crocodile Dundee), on his present “The Paul Hogan Show” which aired in the 1970s and 80s.

In one scene, Hogan is taking part in a parody of Indiana Jones referred to as “Cootamundra Hoges,” who’s exploring the fictional “Valley of Goannas” when he’s attacked by killer koalas.

The koalas leap from the timber and start savaging Hogan, who falls to the floor coated in them.

But Mythic Australia’s Coate stated that he remembered his scout chief telling him tales of drop bears in the early 1970s, earlier than Hogan even went to air.

“When you’re out camping, the old drop bear was used when they didn’t want you to leave the camp grounds too far,” he stated, including he was instructed if he went into the bush, “the drop bears will get you.”

It appears that whereas the drop bear has now turn out to be a story with which to scare vacationers, it virtually actually started as a easy ghost story used to spook Australian youngsters. Not each Australian grew up with tales of drop bears, however those that do keep in mind being instructed about drop bears by their dad and mom, particularly individuals who grew up in the nation or in farming communities.

Coate stated that some of the first guests to Australia to be spooked by the drop bear won’t have been vacationers in any respect.

When Coate was in the military in the late 1980s as half of the survey corps, he stated that typically visiting troopers from the UK and US would come over to do workouts out in the Australian bush and, after they did, they’d ask about how you can keep away from Australia’s famously harmful snakes and spiders.

“The Australians would reply, Forget the snakes and spiders, it’s the drop bears you have to look out for,” Coate stated. He recalled telling visiting troopers the solely strategy to preserve away drop bears was to smear the Australian condiment Vegemite on their faces.

“Invariably, our Aussie soldiers would chuck the visiting soldier a jar of Vegemite and it would take them a few days to catch on that they’re Vegemite on their face and it wasn’t doing anything,” he stated, laughing.

The Drop Bears

There is, nonetheless, one clear marker of when the legendary drop bears started to enter Australian popular culture.

In 1981, bass participant Chris Toms and his New Zealander buddy Johnny Batchelor shaped a band in Sydney with a post-punk, melodic pop sound — after some deliberation, they determined to call it “The Drop Bears.”

Batchelor stated that till he got here to Australia from New Zealand he had by no means heard of the legendary creature, however he recalled Toms, who had grown up in rural New South Wales, describing it as a bit of an Australian ghost story.

“(He said) it was a story that people would tell to scare you, to tell kids and stuff. Tell them you’ve got to be wary or (the drop bears) will drop down and take you,” Batchelor stated.

They agreed to the identify, however Batchelor stated that he shortly grew drained of it. When they started to go to radio stations round Australia to advertise their music, he stated the first query was virtually at all times the identical — “what is a drop bear?”

As the Drop Bears tried to attain extra mainstream success, Batchelor stated the identify grew to become an “albatross around our neck.”

“It felt like a burden, it felt like that wasn’t what we wanted to be,” he stated.

Batchelor stated that he thinks the recognition of the drop bear phenomenon is not simply tied to the Australian sense of humor but additionally to the delight that the nation takes of their harmful animals.

Even with out the drop bears, Australia is legendary for its deadly creatures, together with all kinds of sharks, snakes and two of the world’s most toxic spiders.

“They like to impress people from overseas (with their dangerous animals),” he stated. “I think it’s less about telling kids now and more about beware the traveler.”

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The rise of the drop bear

If the Drop Bears had been shaped simply 20 years later, they may not have needed to clarify their identify so typically. In the age of the web, the delusion of the drop bear has solely grown in recognition.

In January 2020, in line with Google Trends, searches for the drop bear overtook each the Loch Ness Monster and the American jackalope in phrases of fictional-creature recognition.

It’s been helped alongside by a quantity of high-profile appearances by the drop bear in Australian media and tradition. In 2004, Bundaberg Rum launched an advert through which a gaggle of Australians attempt to strike up a dialog with some engaging German backpackers by warning them about the deadly predator.
In 2013, main nature journal Australian Geographic launched an April Fool’s day article titled, “Drop bears target tourists, study says.”
A drop bear -- again, we need to clarify that they are photoshopped and not real -- prepares to ambush Mythic Australia's Ian Coate.

A drop bear — once more, we have to make clear that they’re photoshopped and not actual — prepares to ambush Mythic Australia’s Ian Coate.

Courtesy Mythic Australia

As lately as January 2020, a UK journalist for ITV went viral after she was pranked by an Australian wildlife park, throughout which she was wearing heavy protecting gear earlier than being given a “drop bear” to carry. (It was only a koala.)

It was solely after the visibly nervous journalist handed off the koala that it grew to become obvious it was only a common animal and not a deadly predator.

With the drop bear joke now even being talked about on common journey websites, Australia’s nationwide joke on the world is spreading quicker than ever. But regardless of not being a fan of his shut affiliation with the fake predator, co-founder of the Drop Bears Batchelor stated that perhaps the delusion was dropping some of its affect because it grew to become extra extensively recognized.

“(Maybe) it changes the power of it,” Batchelor stated. “You see such a lot of stuff on the internet, it might all become bland. Whereas when someone is telling a fun scary story about some scary creature, it’s more real to you,” he stated.

And in an ironic twist, suggestion has emerged lately that there could have as soon as been a deadly predator in Australia who did drop from timber to assault its prey.

Archaeological proof factors to a prehistoric marsupial lion, named thylacoleo carnifex, which lived and hunted in Australia hundreds of years in the past, and presumably had the capability to climb and leap from timber. Some have steered that is the true origin of the drop bear delusion.

Mythic Australia’s Coates now writes books for kids about the drop bear to assist encourage younger Australians to take delight of their nationwide legends. Coates stated the level of the drop bear legend is not simply to scare individuals, however slightly convey them collectively.

“It’s just fun that helps build a relationship, it means two people are sharing in the joke … It’s that Aussie way of laughing and bringing people in on a joke and making light of a situation,” he stated.

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