June 25, 2022

#08-217: Smokey (the) Bear

My wife meets Smokey, Williams, Arizona (2015)

Note: How a "spokesbear" rose from the ashes of a natural disaster to help prevent more such catastrophes.

Get Ready: Do you know of any public safety campaigns featuring animals as "spokesmen"?

In 1950 a forest fire broke out in New Mexico, and when it was out, the firefighters found a small bear cub hanging onto a tree. Because only his paws and hind legs were singed, the crews named him "Hotfoot Teddy." Ray Bell, a ranger with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, took the cub home, where he and his family nursed the renamed "Smokey" back to health, with the help of a local veterinarian.

When the story became national news, the public went wild over Smokey's recovery. The mended bear was offered to the National Forest Service for promoting conservation and wildfire prevention. He lived 26 years in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., dying in 1976. He was buried in a state park named for him back in New Mexico, and his obituary ran in many newspapers--including one on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

True to the promise made, the Forest Service featured Smokey in a campaign that had actually begun in 1944, before the live cub was found. The character was named Smokey after a New York City Fire Department hero, "Smokey" Joe Martin, who had suffered burns and blindness during a 1922 rescue. (Though he is properly called "Smokey Bear," most people add an article: Smokey THE Bear.)

When the little bear cub was found, he became the living symbol of the continuing campaign, and took over the slogan that had been coined in 1947: "Remember ... only YOU can prevent forest fires." (In 2001, "forest fires" was changed to "wildfires" to include uncontrolled fires in any terrain.) And from that time until today, he has also been portrayed by costumed actors at public events.

Smokey was incredibly popular throughout his life. At the height of "Smokey Mania," when I was a kid, there was a popular song (I still remember all the words), dolls, and other Smokey merchandise. He received up to 13,000 letters a week in those days, and had millions of visitors through the years. After his "retirement" a year before his death, another rescued cub from the same forest, who lived in Smokey's cage with a female bear named Goldie, became "Smokey Bear II." He lived to 1990.


Here's the song I learned as a kid:

With a Ranger's hat and shovel
and a pair of dungarees,
you will find him in the forest
always sniffin' at the breeze.
People stop and pay attention
when he tells 'em to beware,
'cause ev'rybody knows that
he's the Fire Prevention Bear.


Smokey the Bear, Smokey the Bear.
Prowlin' and a growlin' and a sniffin' the air.
He can find a fire before it starts to flame.
That's why they call him Smokey,
That was how he got his name.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. mania
  2. merchandise
  3. obituary
  4. paws
  5. ranger
  6. recovery
  7. singed
  8. slogan
  9. terrain
  10. veterinarian

  1. the feet of animals
  2. an animal doctor
  3. lightly burned
  4. a fad; a craze
  5. a saying like those used in advertising
  6. goods that are sold
  7. a law enforcement officer of a park, forest, or area of countryside
  8. the process of healing; getting better
  9. a death notice
  10. the physical features of land

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 25, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. f; 3. i; 4. a; 5. g; 6. h; 7. c; 8. e; 9. j; 10. b