One day in late August 1914, Harry Colebourn, a Canadian vet and army volunteer, was heading back to Canada to treat World War I battlefield horses. On his way he stopped at White River, Ontario, where he found an orphaned bear cub tied to a chain. He bought the cub for 20$ and decided to call it Winnipeg (Winnie for short), after his home city. He brought her with him on his journey to Canada, eventually taking her with him when he went to England.
Over the years Winnie became the regiment’s mascot and pet, keeping up the soldiers’ morale through tough battlefield training and bleak, bitter weather, but when war broke out and the time came to deploy to France, Colebourn knew she wouldn't be safe with the regiment so he brought Winnie to the London Zoo who agreed to look after her while he was away.
At the end of the war, Colebourn decided to let Winnie stay at the London Zoo, where she became well known for her playfulness. One of her biggest fans was A.A Milne’s son Christopher Robbins, who even renamed his bear Winnie the Pooh, and then went on to provide the inspiration for his father’s stories about the adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
(Picture: Harry Colebourn with the newly acquired cub)
Sofia C 12HG