Smokey Bear Dies in Zoo

Smokey Bear Dies in Zoo

Smokey Bear, who for a quarter of a century was the symbol of forest fire prevention, died in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He was 26 years of age, which is considered old for a bear.

Smokey was found as a cub, seriously burned, clinging to a tree after a fire in a national forest area in New Mexico that had been swept by fire. He was nursed back to health at the home of a game warden and then sent to the National Zoo, where he attained fame.

During his reign as the fire prevention symbol for the United States Forest Service, Smokey brought in $1.5 million in royalties on commercial articles bearing his name or picture. The money was used to further the service’s fire prevention efforts. Smokey “retired” in May 1975 after he became a victim of arthritis and another New Mexico bear, now 5 years old, became heir to the title. He was caged next to the retiree.

In compliance with a Congressional resolution. Smokey’s body was flown to Capitan, N.M., for burial in the Smokey Bear Historical Park near where he began his climb to fame as a foundling cub.

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