At first he was called Hotfoot Teddy, but he was later renamed Smokey, after the icon. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Ranger Ray Bell heard about the cub and took him to Santa Fe, where he, his wife Ruth, and their children Don and Judy cared for the little bear with the help of local veterinarian Dr Edwin J. Smith. The story was picked up by the national news services and Smokey became a celebrity. Many people wrote and called asking about the cub's recovery. The state game warden wrote to the chief of the Forest Service, offering to present the cub to the agency as long as the cub would be dedicated to a conservation and wildfire prevention publicity program. According to the New York Times obituary for Homer C. Pickens, then assistant director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, he kept the cub on his property for a while, as Pickens would be flying with the bear to D. C. Soon after, Smokey was flown in a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser airplane to the National Zoo in Washington, D. C. A special room was prepared for him at the St. Louis zoo for an overnight fuel stop during the trip, and when he arrived at the National Zoo, several hundred spectators, including members of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, photographers, and media, were there to welcome him.