National Mascots – Smokey Bear
Hours are the same as all Minneapolis Parks 6:00 AM to 10:00
Smokey facts from a Smokey Fan
Smokey Bear is the only cartoon chararcter to have his own zip
code(20252) as well as his own Washington D.C. office.
Smokey Bear came about because of Japanese attacks upon the
nations Western forests, a vital war supply. These attacks came
from submarine but mostly by balloons carrying an incendiary device
that would drop upon reaching mainland.
Smokey Bear was not the first poster child of Forest Fire
prevention, the first may have been the evil character on horseback
spreading fire through the woods, then came the German and Japanese
war characters, then Bambi was loaned for one year from Walt Disney
for the war project. Unfortunately or fortunately Bambi was to
remain a Disney product and the search was made for a National
Spokesman that would forever remain in their employ.
His name is Smokey Bear, the name “Smokey the Bear” was created
by a songwriting team, either to evade licensing or perhaps to make
the lyrics fit the melody. He was never called Hot Foot Teddie
although the first rescued bear cub that became the Smokey Bear zoo
Smokey Bear's message "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" was
created in 1944 by the Ad Council. In a recent study, 95% of those
surveyed could finish the sentence when given the first words. In
April 2001, Smokey's message was updated to "Only You Can Prevent
The rules for appearing as Smokey Bear.
- 1. Use the costume only to further public information,
education, and aware-ness of the prevention of wildfires.
- 2. NOT TO SPEAK during appearances. Conversations or
explanations should be carried out by the accompanying official
- 3. Never appear in less than full costume.
- 4. Remain anonymous at every appearance and in any publicity
connected with an appearance. This includes being photographed
without the head.
- 5. Use only costumes that are clean, complete, and in good
- 6. Keep costume out-of-sight before and after use.
- 7. Appear dignified and friendly. Avoid clowning and
- 8. Always be accompanied by an appropriately uniformed escort
in public appearances, except where not practical, such as on a
parade float where space is limited.
- 9. Refrain from using alcohol or drugs prior to and during the
Smokey Bear appearance. This condition applies to officials as
Upon his death the original Smokey Bear was buried in the
Capitan, NM National Forest. Smokey II like his predecessor was a
cub rescued from a forest fire although when Smokey II died the
Forest Service was unsure if they wanted a row of sequential Smokey
plaques so instead they burned his carcass.
Smokey Bear – The official story
Created in 1944, the Smokey Bear campaign is the longest running
public service campaign in US History. Smokey's forest fire
prevention message remained unchanged for 50 years until April
2001, when the Ad Council updated his message to address the
increasing number of wildfires in the nation's wildlands. As one of
the world's most recognizable fictional characters,
Did you know the cartoon Smokey Bear is based upon an actual
baby black bear that was found alone, charred, and scared after a
devastating wildfire burned through New Mexico?
One spring day in 1950 in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico,
an operator in one of the fire towers to the north of the Capitans
spotted smoke and called the location into the nearest ranger
station. The first crew discovered a major fire being swept along
the ground between the trees, driven by a strong wind. Word spread
rapidly and more crews reported to help. Forest Rangers, army
soldiers, men from the New Mexico State Game Department, and
civilian volunteers worked together to gain control of the raging
fire. As soon as they contained the fire to one spot, the wind
would push it across the lines. During one of the lulls in
firefighting, a report of a lonely bear cub who had been seen
wandering near the fireline was reported. The men left him alone
because they thought the mother bear might come for him.
Several soldiers were caught directly in the path of the fire
storm, barely escaping by laying face down on a rockslide for over
an hour until the fire had burned past them. In spite of the
experience, the firefighters were safe except for a few scorches
and some burned holes in their Nearby, the little cub had been
caught in the path of the same fire and had not fared as well. He
had taken refuge in a tree that was now nothing but a charred
smoking snag. His climb had saved his life but left him badly
burned on the paws and hind legs. The soldiers removed the little
bear cub from the burned tree, but they did not know what to do
with him. A rancher, who had been helping the firefighters, agreed
to take the cub home. A New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Ranger heard about the cub when he returned to the fire camp and
drove to the rancher's home to get the bear. The cub needed
veterinary aid and was flown in a small plane to Santa Fe where the
burns were treated and bandaged.
The news about the little bear spread swiftly throughout New
Mexico. Soon the United Press and Associated Press picked up the
story and broadcast it nationwide. Many people wrote or called to
inquire about the little bear's progress. The State Game Warden
wrote an official letter to the Chief of the Forest Service,
presenting the cub to the agency with the understanding that the
small bear would be dedicated to a publicity program of fire
prevention and conservation. The go-ahead was given to send the
bear to Washington, DC, where he found a home at the National Zoo,
becoming the living symbol of Smokey Bear.