Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Smokey Bear has ZIP code

Drawing courtesy of CoPilot

Smokey Bear, the enduring symbol of wildfire prevention, has garnered so much goodwill over his 77-year existence that the U.S. Postal Service established a unique ZIP code for his mail in 1964. This is quite remarkable for a mascot that originated as a fictional character. In 1944, commissioned by the War Advertising Council and the U.S. Forest Service, artist Albert Staehle and writer Harold Rosenberg created the safety-conscious black bear. Smokey Bear, the face of the nation's longest-running public service campaign, is renowned for his slogan, "Only you can prevent wildfires."

In 1950, a black bear cub rescued from a New Mexico wildfire by Taos Pueblo firefighters was named "Smokey Bear" as a living tribute to the beloved figure. This bear, along with his successor Smokey II, spent their lives at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The bears, along with their alter ego, received thousands of letters, drawings, Christmas cards, and honey shipments weekly. To manage this influx of mail, the bears were assigned their own Washington, D.C. ZIP code: 20252. The bear-themed postage stamps, featuring the likenesses of the first two bears, were released on the character's 40th anniversary. Although the ZIP code was decommissioned from around 2007 to 2014, it was reinstated for Smokey Bear's 70th anniversary. The original bear also maintains an active presence on Instagram and Twitter, where he shares fire prevention tips under the hashtag #OnlyYou — a message now more crucial than ever.

Source: Interesting Facts

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