We all grew up on the tales of Christopher Robin and his beloved Winnie the Pooh, but did you know that Winnie the Pooh was based off of a real-life bear? Meet Winnie, the bear cub that joined a Canadian brigade and met Christopher Robin at the London Zoo.
Harry Colebourn was a veterinarian tending horses in the First World War. He was on his way to Quebec to join his fellow soldiers heading overseas when, while waiting for his train, he came across a young bear cub for sale. Buying the cub for a grand total of $20, Colebourn named it “Winnipeg Bear” after the town he grew up in—although most just called the cub “Winnie” for short. Winnie went with Colebourn to Quebec, and later to England where Colebourn was stationed.
The Brigade’s Mascot
Upon arrival in England, Winnie soon fell-in with the rest of Colebourn’s troop, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. She became the mascot for the brigade, and soldiers often played with her whenever they had downtime. However, when word came that the brigade was heading to France, Colebourn was ordered not to bring Winnie with them. As such, Colebourn loaned Winnie to the London Zoo.
Winnie Meets Christopher Robin
Winnie became a popular animal at the London Zoo. She was so tame that children would ride on her back and feed her sweets. This was where the young Christopher Robin and his father, A. A. Milne, first met Winnie. They soon became frequent visitors, and Robin named his own teddy bear after Winnie, combining it with the name of a friend’s pet swan, Pooh, to come up with the name Winnie the Pooh. Inspired, A. A. Milne would publish Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926, basing the character off of his son’s teddy bear.
Teddy bears, and other stuffed animals, are wonderful sources of inspiration, both for you and your child. Get yours today at The Zoo Factory. We have plenty of stuffable animals for you to choose from!