Happy 70th birthday, Smokey Bear!
In honor of this monumental occasion, here are three things you might not know about Smokey:
- The 1984 Smokey Bear postage stamp was designed by Rudy Wendelin, a U.S. Forest Service artist who created images of Smokey from the 1940s to the 1970s. He also designed the 1964 John Muir stamp.
- There was a real Smokey Bear. In 1950, firefighters found a tiny, two-month-old cub in the top of a tree after a fire in New Mexico’s Capitan Mountain Range. After being treated for burns, the cub was eventually given to the local forest ranger in the town of Capitan, who named him Hotfoot Teddy. Later his name was changed to Smokey Bear after the original poster bear.
- By the 1960s, Smokey Bear was receiving upwards of 1,000 letters a day and had four secretaries who helped him answer each one. The volume of mail was so great in fact that, in 1964, Smokey was issued his own ZIP code: 20252. (Only one other American has his own ZIP code: the President of the United States.)
Feel like sending Smokey a letter today in honor of his birthday? You can write to him at Smokey Bear, Washington, D.C. 20252.