Jun
29

Today in Smithsonian History: June 29, 1950

Smokey Bear, Bears, Animals, Zoo exhibits, Animal cages, Advertising--Forest fire prevention, Ponds

The original Smokey Bear frolicking in a pool at the National Zoo sometime in the 1950s. (Photo by Francine Schroeder, as featured in the Torch, December 1976)

June 29, 1950  Smokey Bear, an orphaned, four-month-old black cub rescued from a forest fire in Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, arrives at the National Zoological Park. The National Park Service erects an educational exhibit next to Smokey’s enclosure, and the bear becomes a famous symbol of fire prevention.

A burned bear cub survived the Capitan Gap fire in New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest and was cared for by New Mexico Game Warden Ray Bell. The live cub, dubbed "Smokey Bear," was donated to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he remained until his death in 1976. (Image via National Historical Publications and Records Administration, National Archives)

A burned bear cub survived the Capitan Gap fire in New Mexico’s Lincoln National Forest and was cared for by New Mexico Game Warden Ray Bell. The live cub, dubbed “Smokey Bear,” was donated to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he remained until his death in 1976. (Image via National Historical Publications and Records Administration, National Archives)

 

Little Smokey, who also was born in the Lincoln National Forest but was not the victim of fire (he was orphaned and rescued from starvation by the Forest Service) was added to the zoo in 1971. Little Smokey would carry the torch of his namesake, who was nearing retirement (Smokey would turn 25 in 1975, which is the equivalent to roughly 70 human years, the mandatory retirement age for federal employees).

The original Smokey bear died in 1976. A Congressional resolution of 1974 stipulated that Smokey’s remains would be returned to New Mexico, where he would be buried at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, not far from where he was found.

Smokey Bear at the national Zoo

Smokey Bear II enjoying the honey and berries that are dispensed from his new automated dispensing tree. National Zoological Park staffers from the offices of Graphics and Exhibits and Facilities Management put together the “honey tree” in Smokey’s exhibit area in the summer of 1984. (Photo by Jessie Cohen, as featured in the Torch, November 1984)

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives


Posted: 29 June 2017
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