Only You Can Prevent Hotfoot Teddy



One of my favorite animals.

As you probably
still remember (not)
my several cutting edge (not)
posts about bears….

I won’t bore you with the
conventional pictures of
mooching pic-a-nic baskets
at the local National Forest….

nor will I be making any
more lame puns about
can’t bear this,
bare-ly that,
and going bare here or there.

or, for that matter,
will I describe anything
related to bears as a real honey.

No, my plan is to bore you
with something completely
different —
— lame trivia.

Ok, so I don’t really think
it’s lame once you hear
this story…

Pretty surprising
and cool, actually.

I can’t speak for the pictures
I end up attaching
on the post, though —

I mean, they kinda
choose themselves
from the mailbag,
and I just try
to make them
make sense somehow.

Anyhoo —
back to that very surprising piece
of bear trivia that I sorta promised you.

Did you know that there
really was a Smokey the Bear ?

Here he is.

Good lookin’
little feller, ain’t he ? –>

Ok, so, no cool hat ,
and I don’t think he did
all that much talking either,
but he was single-pawedly
responsible for reducing
forest fires in the United States.

And despite the smart alecky
title of this post,
which was chosen more
in another lame attempt at
witticism than any commentary
on Ole Smokey —
I’m a big fan.

The story is this:

During World War II,
the U.S. Forest Service had
become increasingly concerned
about the number of acres
destroyed by forest fires each year,
and decided it needed an
advertising campaign to
remind people to be mindful
of the dangers —

–they developed a variety
of posters and slogans,
(one of them a talking
Ranger bear named Smokey)
but nothing seemed to be
catching the imagination
of the public.

Then, in 1950, a huge fire,
thought to have been
caused by a carelessly
tossed cigarette butt,
burned over 17,000 acres
in the Capitan Mountains
of New Mexico.

The U.S. Army and
New Mexico forestry people
responded to put out the fire —

–the area had been
reduced to a cinder —

but, clinging to the limb of a
burned out tree was a small
black bear cub (3 months old).

He was badly injured,
but he was taken to Sante Fe
and nursed back to health.

Originally, the soldiers
who found him had
nicknamed him
” Hotfoot Teddy “-

— but the Forest Service quickly
realized the powerful potential
of the story, and renamed
him “Smokey”.

When he was well enough,
they took him on a national tour,
with plenty of chances for photo opps.

And sure enough,
Smokey’s story caught on
with the public, and
forest fire awareness soared.

Smokey finally took up
residence at the National Zoo
in Washington, where he lived 26 years,
(he actually had his own Zip Code-
20252, for all his fan mail )
until his death in 1976.

His remains were returned
to New Mexico, to what is
now the Smokey Bear Historical Park,
in Capitan, and a memorial plaque
there tells his life’s story.

And what a remarkable story it is….

It boggles the mind how many
millions of acres of forest
have been saved with the
help of that little bear.

So, here’s to Smokey !

And remember, y’all…..

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.

!!!! HOY !!!!



8 thoughts on “Only You Can Prevent Hotfoot Teddy

  1. YAY! Love this! 🙂
    I love Smokey!
    I’ve been to his Park twice!
    Bear-HUGS!!! 🙂

  2. julespaige says:

    So unbearably cute… I do remember hearing Smokey the Bear ads as a kiddo. Would be nice if more folks listened to that message. But I like the motto of when visiting nature that one should leave the area (if not just as it was) better than when we passed through. Well if that is possible.

  3. Yay! Smokey!. We had him all through grade school each year handing out “Badges” that we wore on our shirt pocket for a couple days each year. Our family had a very good friend that was a Park Ranger. I remember riding in his pickup and on the dash was a magnetic Smokey the Bear Head with his hat on. I thought that was a big deal because I was in Smokey the Bear’s pickup.

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