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Happy Birthday Smokey Bear! A Brief History & Gifts for Fans of Smokey Bear

It’s August 9th and for fans of Smokey Bear, that means just one thing: it's Smokey’s birthday! Smokey first appeared on a Forest Fire Prevention campaign poster in 1944 meaning he’s 76 years old this year! For the past 76 years, Smokey Bear has been working hard to inspire Americans to prevent wildfires. After all, ONLY YOU can prevent wildfires!

Knowing how much I love Smokey Bear, my mom bought me “Smokey Bear: The Cub Who Left His Pawprints on History” by Karen Signell. While most know Smokey Bear as an advertising icon of the United States Forest Service, there was actually a living symbol of Smokey Bear who lived at the National Zoo in Washington, DC until his death in 1976. Stemming from a wildlife in New Mexico, forest rangers from New Mexico and Texas set out to control the raging fire. In the process, there was a report of a lone bear cub near the fire line. While he tried to take refuge in a tree, it became completely charred. The cub survived but his paws and hind legs were badly burned. He was eventually transported to Santa Fe where his burns were treated and bandaged. As news about the cub spread nationwide, many people asked about his recovery. The recovered bear cub was presented to the Forest Service and dedicated to a conservation and wildfire prevention publicity program! In fact, Smokey Bear received so many letters and gifts of honey that he received his own zip code! There is even a Smokey Bear Historical Park that I hope to visit in Capitan, New Mexico.

Smokey Bear Patch.jpg
Smokey Bear - National Zoo
Smokey and his Letters US Forest Service

Five Fun Smokey Bear Facts:

  1. It’s Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear
     

  2. Smokey’s name has always intentionally been spelled differently from the adjective ‘smoky’
     

  3. Smokey received so much mail at the zoo (more than 13,000 letters a week!) that by 1965 the Postal Service gave him his own zip code: 20252
     

  4. While you can still write Smokey a letter at Smokey Bear, Washington, DC, 20252, you can also tweet him on his very own twitter account, @smokey_bear
     

  5. Smokey Bear’s name and image are protected by the Smokey Bear Act of 1952

Does someone in your life love Smokey Bear too?

Share this story & consider buying a special gift to celebrate Smokey Bear's 76th Birthday!

About Me

I am a school psychologist living in Southern California by way of Buffalo, New York. I'm on a mission to explore the possibilities from the coastal beaches to the giant redwoods... and everything in between.  

 

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© 2020 Krista Muscarella

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