Winnie the bear and ZSL London Zoo in 1926

by Ann Sylph on

A children's book beloved by all, this year marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne.

First published on 14 October 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh was named after a Canadian black bear called Winnie who befriended A. A Milne's son, Christopher Robin Milne, during his time at ZSL London Zoo.

As part of the anniversary celebrations Egmont Publishing have published a new official sequel and have revealed a new character, a penguin. Author Brian Sibley has written Winter: in which Penguin arrives in the forest, one of the four new Pooh tales in the book The best bear in the world.

Black and white historic photograph of black-footed penguin
Black-footed penguin in 1926 Guide to ZSL London Zoo

A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin Milne were frequent visitors to ZSL London Zoo and other animals residing at the Zoo during that time may well also have inspired other characters that joined Winnie-the-Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Exploring the site in 1926 there were many animals, but who would be an interesting addition to Hundred Acre Wood? Possibly a secretary bird; native to the grasslands and savannah of Africa, could this bird have tried to organise Winnie the Pooh?

Historic black and white photograph of a Secretary bird in the 1926 Guide to ZSL London Zoo
Secretary bird in the 1926 Guide to ZSL London Zoo

Maybe an echidna, which according to the guide was a 'strange animal, a native of New Guinea'.

Historic black and white photograph of an echnida in the 1928 Guide to ZSL London Zoo
Echidna in 1926 Guide to ZSL London Zoo

Or perhaps a midwife toad, the male carrying eggs on its back, what would Winnie-the-Pooh think of this?

Historic photograph of male midwife toad with eggs on its back
Midwife toad in 1926 Guide to ZSL London Zoo

Of course some of the animals found at ZSL London Zoo must also have influenced A.A. Milne. How about this clouded leopard who seems so like Tigger but without the stripes.

Historic photograph of a clouded leopard looking like tigger!
Clouded leopard

Is this Kanga and Roo?

Historic black and white photograph of a kangaroo with young it the pouch
Kangaroo and young in 1926 Guide to ZSL London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo still inspires writers today and as we celebrate Winnie-the-Pooh’s 90th  anniversary could you be using our animals to inspire your own stories and art works?

Discover more about Winnie the bear take a look at some of our previous blogs about Winnie the bear and watch Michael Palmer, our former archivist, talking about Winnie memorabilia in our collections.

ZSL Library collections include guides to ZSL London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo as well as information about zoos around the world and a wide range of resources about animals and their conservation.

Thanks to ZSL Fellow and Library Volunteer Sandra Doyle for help with image selection and scanning.

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