This Day in Disney History- May 12

May 12, 1934

Winnipeg (or “Winnie”) the Bear passes away at the London Zoo at the ripe old age of 20.  She served as the real life inspiration for Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie was a female black bear, and had been living at the zoo since 1915.  She was bought as a small cub for $20 at a stop in White River, Ontario, by Lt. Harry Colebourn of The Fort Garry Horse, a Canadian cavalry regiment, en route to the Western Front during the First World War.

The bear was smuggled into Britain as an unofficial regimental mascot. Lt. Colebourn, the regiment’s veterinarian named her after his home city of Winnipeg in Manitoba. Before leaving for France, Colebourn left Winnie at London Zoo.

Playful and gentle, she had become well-liked by writer A. A. Milne’s son Christopher Robin.  Christopher Robin named his own teddy bear Winnie.