Winnie the Pooh is so much more than a cartoon bear who loves honey. He is, in fact, a she with a very rich history.
That’s right, the real Winnie the Pooh is actually a girl. (Side note: Yes, we know the cartoon Pooh bear was referred to as male, but there’s a difference between the character and the original bear.)
Christopher Robin’s best friend was named after a black bear called Winnie, who lived at the London Zoo. The bear’s name was a tribute to the Canadian city of Winnipeg. So, not only is she a girl, she’s also got Canadian roots. (Shout out to the Canadian Heritage Minute that taught this writer this very important history lesson.)
The whole story behind “the world’s most famous bear” is outlined in a new children’s book called, Finding Winnie, by Lindsay Mattick.
Mattick is the great-granddaughter of Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian who bought Winnie as a cub during the WWI. Colebourn paid just $20 for the bear and brought her along on his travels. Winnie became the unofficial mascot for Colebourn's regiment, but when he had to go to France with his unit, he left her at the London Zoo.
At the zoo, Winnie was often visited by a young boy named -- you guessed it -- Christopher Robin. The boy loved Winnie so much he named his own toy bear after her. Oh, and Christopher Robin's father just happened to be A. A. Milne, the author behind the Winnie the Pooh character we've all come to love.
Fascinating stuff, isn't it?
Finding Winnie is available in bookstores now.
CORRECTION: This article previously misidentified Winnipeg as a province rather than a city.
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