Ranger Rick’s Bear-a-thon, our weeklong celebration of all things bears, is still going strong! The fun continues today with a journey through bear history and a look at five of our favorite famous bears. Some of these bears inspired us with their wise words and noble slogans, while others just gave us a really catchy theme song. Either way, you probably have at least one fond memory of each of these bear-lebrities!

1. Smokey BearSmokey the Bear

A lot of people get Smokey’s name wrong and call him Smokey THE Bear, partially because there was a popular song in 1952 called “Smokey the Bear.” (The word “the” was added to keep the rhythm.) One thing that most people don’t forget, though, is Smokey’s famous slogan. The most memorable version was created in 1947—“Remember…Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires.”—but in 2001 it was updated to “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”

Fun Fact: In 1950, an American black bear whose paws and legs were burned in a wildfire became the living symbol of Smokey Bear. He was first called “Hotfoot Teddy,” and then renamed Smokey.

2. Gummi BearsGummi Bears

I’m not talking about the gooey candy that gets stuck in your teeth. I’m referring to the far-superior stars of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the legendary bouncing bears who live in the Gummi Glen and guzzle gummibeary juice that gives them crazy jumping abilities. I would argue that the best part of the show, which aired from 1985 to 1991, was the super-catchy theme song. You just can’t help but jump around and smile when you hear the glorious chorus of “Gummi Beeeeaaaars! Bouncing here and there and everywhere!”

Fun Fact: In 2010, for the show’s 25th anniversary, veteran Disney writer/producer Jymn Magon held a live webinar that reunited the talented team behind the Gummi Bears, including some of the voice actors, writers, and composers.

3. Fozzie BearFozzie Bear

Fozzie is the world’s best bear comedian…but only because he’s the only one! His jokes are cringingly bad, and they’ve never gotten any better, even after his 30-some years as a comic. Still, you can’t help but love Fozzie for his eternal optimism, dogged perseverance, and dedication to terrible puns and gags. Here’s a bear-themed Fozzie joke in honor of our Bear-a-thon: “Why don’t you wear shoes, Fozzie?” “Why should I? I’d still have bear feet. Wocka wocka wocka!”

Fun Fact: In the first season, Fozzie used to cry when his jokes didn’t go well. Audiences felt uncomfortable and embarrassed by that, so they tweaked the character to be more optimistic and endearing.

4. Winnie the PoohWinnie the Pooh

Who doesn’t love this silly willy nilly old bear? He’s definitely the oldest bear on this list—the first collection of stories about him, by A.A. Milne, was published way back in 1926. Disney acquired the rights to Winnie the Pooh in 1961, and the rest is history. Since then, they’ve released countless animated movies and TV shows, making Pooh a beloved bear for many generations of kids. But the best part of Pooh, a “Bear of Very Little Brain,” is his wise words. Here’s my favorite Pooh quote: “Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”

Fun Fact: The Latin translation of the Pooh stories was the only Latin book to ever be featured on The New York Times Best Seller List.

5. Yogi BearYogi Bear

While Pooh’s head is stuffed with fluff, Yogi is smarter than the average bear (at least, according to Yogi). Everyone’s favorite pic-a-nic basket thief debuted in 1958 as a supporting character in The Huckleberry Hound Show, a Hanna-Barbera production, but he soon broke out on his own. He’s starred in many TV series and movies since then, including a 2010 film where he and his sidekick Boo Boo had to team up with their rival, Ranger Smith, to save their beloved Jellystone Park.

Fun Fact: Yogi’s collar was actually a revolutionary animation technique for the time. Animators had to work on tight budgets back then, so the collar created a separation between Yogi’s head and body and allowed them to focus on animating the head, while keeping his body in a handful of static poses.

Gertie the Grizzly, the star of the new Ranger Rick Appventures: Bears app. Appventures are interactive storybooks for kids ages 4 to 8.
Gertie the Grizzly, the star of the new Ranger Rick Appventures: Bears app. Appventures are interactive storybooks for kids ages 4 to 8.

Introducing Gertie

These bears are all legends in their own right, but there is a rising bear starlet you may not have heard of. Her name is Gertie, and this sweet mama grizzly is the star of the new Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: Bears. The iPad app is packed with fun bear-related activities and games, plus an interactive photo story that teaches kids all about bears. Download the app today from the App Store!

Disneynature BEARS movie
Screenshot from the new Disneynature BEARS movie, premiering April 2014.

For even more bear fun, don’t miss Disneynature’s new BEARS movie, premiering on April 18, 2014—in time for Earth Day!  Meet Sky and her adorable cubs, Amber and Scout, in the BEARS trailer, and don’t miss the movie next spring!

Gummi Bears, Fozzie Bear, and Winnie the Pooh images used with permission from Disney.