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Frequently Asked Questions

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Was Smokey a real bear?

Yes, Smokey was a North American Black Bear.

Who came first the "living symbol" Smokey or the poster Smokey?

The Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention program began on August 9,1944 and Smokey the cub was found on May 9, 1950 and named after the poster Smokey.

How much did Smokey weigh when he was found?

Smokey weighed about 5 pounds.

Where was Smokey Bear found?

Smokey was found in an unwanted human caused 17,000 acre forest fire in the Capitan Mountains near Capitan, New Mexico.

Who found Smokey?

Smokey was found by a fire crew from Fort Bliss, Texas with Speed Simmons from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department as the crew boss.

Who was the Ranger who cared for Smokey?

New Mexico Game Warden Ray Bell.

Where did Smokey live?

Smokey lived at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Was Smokey a gentle bear?

As a cub, Smokey would bite Game Warden Ray Bell and his son Don, but allowed Ray’s daughter Judy and wife Ruth to care for and feed him. Ray’s theory was that Smokey associated himself and Don with pain because they were the ones that changed Smokey’s bandages. As Smokey became an adult in the National Zoo, he was like most bears and not very gentle.

How long did Smokey live?

Smokey lived to be 26 years old.

When and how did Smokey die?

Smokey died of old age on November 9, 1976.

Is there currently a Smokey Bear living in the Zoo?

No. After Little Smokey passed away on August 11, 1990, there were no more Living Symbols in the Zoo.