Bears. Bears figure prominently in our shared pop culture. Some bears are adorable and cuddly. Others are terrifying. Some, like that panda that attacked Ben Stiller in “Tropic Thunder” manage to be both. Today, we’re trying to narrow it down to the top four…the Mt. Rushmore of Bears.

For the purposes of this exercise we’ve decided to focus on actual bears, as in Ursus Carnivora. Now, they don’t have to be “actual” actual bears. They can be cartoons for instance. But, for this, we’re not counting Walter Payton, Don Haskins or that large hairy guy at the pride parade (great bears, all, though!)

Here’s our Mt. Rushmore of Bears with a brief explanation of each.

  • 1.) Smokey Bear

“Only YOU can prevent forest fires”. Smokey deserves the number one spot here because of his civic-mindedness. Also, he was once a real bear! A cub that was rescued after a fire in 1950 in Lincoln Country, New Mexico was official designated at the first “living Smokey Bear”. And, yeah, that fire was human-caused.

  • 2.) Wojtek the Polish Army Bear

Wojtek was made an official corporal in the Polish army during World War II. Wojtek’s duties consisted of carrying ammunition, building troop morale and mauling Nazis. There are no records of Wojtek mauling any Nazis but we’re assuming he WOULD have if the opportunity had ever arisen.

  • 3.) Yogi Bear

Yogi Bear was the first animated “star” of the television era (Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse had both started in movies). He’s also been used in National Parks P.S.A.’s, his own line of RV parks and getting Dan Akroyd some much-needed post-1980’s movie work.

  • 4.) Winnie the Pooh

Unlike Smokey Bear, Winnie is probably more likely to CAUSE a forest fire. Probably due to some wacky, honey-related hijinks. But, he has been a beloved kid-lit icon for over a hundred years now. Let’s see if anybody knows who Ted is a century from now.

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