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Did you know Winnie-the-Pooh was based on a real bear at London Zoo?

Written by
Alexandra Sims

Winnie-the-Pooh may be a Bear of Very Little Brain, but since his creation by author AA Milne and illustrator EH Shepard in 1926 he’s made waves around the world charming generations of readers with his honey-loving ways. Now he’s the subject of an immersive exhibition at the V&A.

Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic is the largest exhibition on the lovable teddy for over 40 years. Containing original illustrations, early editions, letters, photographs and cartoons, it’s aiming to reveal the real people, relationships and inspirations behind everyone’s favourite Hundred Acre Wood resident. One major revelation is that Winnie-the-Pooh is based on an actual IRL bear at London Zoo. 

Yep, the picture above shows AA Milne’s son (also called Christopher Robin IRL) when he visited London Zoo and met ‘Winnie’, a young black Canadian bear. She belonged to Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, who was a Canadian soldier. He brought his furry pal to England at the outbreak of the First World War and when his regiment was called to France, he left the bear at London Zoo for safekeeping where Christopher Robin took a shine to her.  

Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic is at the V&A until April 8 2017. 

Winnie may not be there anymore, but there’s still plenty going on at ZSL London Zoo this Christmas. 

Want to see more animals? Here are eight times Londoners were obsessed with animals in 2017

Image: ZSL London Zoo 

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