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Posted by Padmore Editorial

In 1914, during World War I, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to treat battlefield horses, got off his train on a platform in Ontario and saw a bear cub tied to a string held by a trapper. Guessing that the bear's destiny was to be kill for his fur, the vet bought the bear for $20 and re-boarded the train. 

 

 

In her book Finding Winnie, the author details how Harry brought the bear cub across the Atlantic to his army camp in Britain.

 
At the camp all the soldiers in Harry's regiment fell in love with Winnie (who was a female black bear) and she stayed with them for four months. She was a very playful and entertaining mascot and a source of joy for all the soldiers.

 

 

 

 

In an interview with The Guardian, Mrs. Mattick explains that "while Harry fully intended to bring her home with him at the end of the war, no one anticipated how long the war would last. After four years at the London Zoo it was clear to Harry that Winnie had found a new home." Winnie was a star attraction at the London Zoo, where she lived for over 20 years. There Winnie met thousands of visitors. 

 

 

 

Christopher, and his father author AA Milne, frequented the zoo, and as many others, loved Winnie because of her exceptionally friendly nature. Christopher decided to rename his stuffed bear from Edward to Winnie. Watching his son played with Winnie and his other stuffed animals, inspired AA Milne to write stories about their adventures in the wood behind his home.

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Photo Credits: All the photos with Harry and Winnie are from the family album of Lindsay Mattick. 

 

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