Winnie the bear and Lt. Colebourn Statue

by Anonymous (not verified) on

This artefact of the month is not in the Library, but stands in London Zoo, close to the War Memorial.

Winnie the bear statue


The statue is of the bear Winnie, who was to be immortalised as Winnie the Pooh. The statue was presented to London Zoo by the people of Manitoba through their Government on 19th July 1995.  The plaque reads:


Winnie and Lt. Colebourn

by Bill Epp

presented by the people

of Manitoba

unveiled July 1995



On August 24th 1914, en route to the war in Europe, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn purchased a black bear cub at White River, Ontario, for $20 from a hunter who had killed its mother. He called her Winnie after his home town Winnipeg. Lt. Colebourn took her with him to England, where his regiment, the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade, was in training on Salisbury Plain. The bear became the pet of the soldiers and the mascot of the regiment. She was left at the Zoo for safekeeping on December 9th 1914 by Lt. Colebourn, when his regiment went to fight in France.

Lt. Colebourn’s original intention was to take Winnie back to Canada with him when the war was over; he would often visit her at the Zoo when on leave from the battle zones in France. However, when the war ended, Lt. Colebourn donated Winnie to ZSL London Zoo in appreciation of the care that had been taken of her in those years, and in recognition that Winnie had become a great favourite with visitors.

The author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin frequently came to see Winnie. Milne decided to name his fictional character, Pooh Bear, after her, and so Winnie the Pooh was born.

This ZSL London Zoo record card is for Winnie, the bear that inspired A. A. Milne to create Winnie the Pooh.

Animal record card for Winnie the bear
Animal record card for Winnie the bear


Select a blog

Careers at ZSL

Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.

Nature at the heart of global decision making

At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions. 

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!


We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.


From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.


A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.

Artefact of the month

Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.

Wild About

Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.

Asia Conservation Programme

ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.