Winnipeg the Bear
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Harry Colebourn and Winnie, 1914
|Species||American Black Bear|
|Died||May 12, 1934 (aged 20)
London Zoo, London, England
|Known for||Inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh|
|Named after||the city of Winnipeg|
She was bought as a small cub for $20 (probably from the hunter who had shot her mother) at a stop in White River, Ontario, by Lt. Harry Colebourn of The Fort Garry Horse, a Canadian cavalry regiment, en route to the Western Front during the First World War. The bear was smuggled into Britain as an unofficial regimental mascot. Lt. Colebourn, the regiment’s veterinarian, named her after his home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Before leaving for France, Colebourn left Winnie at London Zoo.
Winnipeg's eventual destination was to have been the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, but at the end of the War, Colebourn decided to allow Winnie to remain at the London Zoo, where she was much loved for her playfulness and gentleness. Among her fans was A. A. Milne's son Christopher Robin, who consequently changed the name of his own teddy bear from "Edward Bear" to "Winnie the Pooh", providing the inspiration for his father's stories about Winnie-the-Pooh.
A statue of Winnie and Captain Colebourn stands in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, in the park's Nature Playground.
In 1996, Canada Post issued 'Winnie and Lieutenant Colebourn, White River, 1914' designed by Wai Poon with art direction by Anthony Van Bruggen and computer design by Marcelo Caetano. The 45¢ stamps are perforated 12.5 x 13 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Canada Limited.
- A Bear Named Winnie. TV movie (2004)
- Winnie-the-Pooh makes his literary debut. Interview with Colebourn's son, CBC Digital Archives (1987). Retrieved 12 Nov 2010.