Happy Birthday to Smokey the Bear

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 9, 2009 2:24 pm

The Ski  Channel is all about preserving nature and it’s mountains.  This week Smokey the Bear celebrates his 65th birthday.  Although Smokey is a fictitious character,  the Ski Channel has learned of a real life Smokey the Bear that was once a mascot for the various ski resorts through out New Mexico.


The living symbol of Smokey Bear was an American black bear who in the spring of 1950 was caught in the Capitan Gap fire, a wildfire that burned 17,000 acres (69 km2) in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. The cub was in the Lincoln National Forest. Smokey had climbed a tree to escape the blaze, but his paws and hind legs had been burned. He was rescued by a Game Warden after the fire.

At first he was called Hotfoot Teddy, but was later renamed Smokey, after the mascot. A local rancher who had been helping fight the fire took the cub home with him, but he needed veterinary aid. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Ranger Ray Bell took him to Santa Fe. His wife, Ruth, and their children, Don and Judy, cared for the cub. The story was picked up by the national news services and Smokey became an instant celebrity. He and the Bells were featured in Life, cementing his star status. Soon after, Smokey was flown in a Piper Cub to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he lived for 26 years. Upon his death on November 9, 1976 [7], Smokey’s remains were returned by the government to Capitan, New Mexico, and buried at what is now the Smokey Bear Historical Park[8].