Smokey in his NZP enclosure upon his "retirement," c. May 1975, by Unknown, May, 1975, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, An elderly Smokey Bear standing on rocks in his enclosure. The caption reads, "The original Smokey Bear, who for 25 years served as the first living symbol of forest fire prevention, died today in his retirement cage at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The original Smokey Bear was retired during special ceremonies in May of 1975, and a new official Smokey Bear was appointed at that time to replace him..