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.

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.