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National Zoo celebrates Smokey’s 75 birthday with a new exhibit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In honor of Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo debuted a new exhibit, The Smokey Bear Zone, on May 23rd. The bilingual interpretive trail was designed in partnership with the USDA Forest Service. The trail, which runs along the former ‘real bear’ Smokey Bear zoo habitat, includes information on the history of the Smokey Bear campaign, forest management, and fire ecology.

The ribbon cutting honors went to Undersecretary Jim Hubbard, Director Steve Monfort of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, and of course Smokey Bear. Helping the Smithsonian make the event a success were employees from the USDA Forest Service, the Ad Council, and the National Association of State Foresters. The three organizations are partners in the Smokey Bear Campaign through the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program.

The Smokey Bear Zone is open to the public through December of this year. Visitors to the exhibit walk along a short, paved path that gives them a view of the enclosure where

Statue of Smokey Bear standing in front of sign that reads Entering Smokey Bear Zone
A new Smokey Bear outdoor exhibit at Smithsonian’s National Zoo celebrates 75 years of preventing wildfires. The exhibit highlights include an iconic Smokey statue, vintage posters and photographs of the real Smokey Bear. Washington DC May 23, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo by Tanya Flores.

lived. Posters along the bilingual interpretive trail show Smokey through the decades as he offers friendly tips on the proper way to extinguish campfires and advice on how to be a good steward of our national forests, grasslands and America’s many wilderness areas. Other exhibit highlights include a life-size statue of the iconic character, as well as photographs of the real Smokey Bear.

The exhibit also features the art of American artist Rudy Wendelin. Many of Wendelin’s iconic Smokey posters, which he created for the USDA Forest Service, helped shape the public identity of this beloved character. Reproductions of his vintage posters are interspersed with informational displays about Smokey’s history.

Click ahead for more on the Smokey Bear Zone opening event as well as an interactive map and information on all events for Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday.