Smokey Bear, the face of wildfire prevention, has a deeper backstory than you may think.
Smokey Bear, the recognizable mascot of wildfire prevention in the United States, turns 75 Thursday.
The U.S. Forest Service started the campaign in 1944 and used it to educate the American public on the dangers of forest fires. A live mascot, appropriately named Smokey, was added to the campaign in 1950.
Smokey’s face appeared on posters with his famous slogan: “only you can prevent forest fires.” In 2001, the slogan was updated to: “only you can prevent wildfires.” Smokey has also appeared on postage stamps, billboards and even a hot-air balloon.
Celebrities including Betty White and Arnold Schwarzenegger have teamed up with Smokey to raise wildfire awareness. And this year Stephen Colbert, Jeff Foxworthy and Al Roker gave the iconic bear’s animated emoji a voice.
Here are 15 historic images from Smokey’s life and campaign.
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