Have you passed a love of Winnie the Pooh onto your kids? Maybe give them a read of Finding Winnie, by Lindsay Mattick, which details the story of the real-life bear who inspired the literary adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. And, as it turns out, the Winnie the Pooh was actually female, and came from a province up north. Yes!
The world originally fell in love with Winnie as the yellow bear in A.A. Milne's books. The rights to the character were eventually sold to Disney, where the clumsy creature took over the big screen and has earned the media giant revenues since the '60s. And continues to be beloved to this day across generations — who hasn't identified with Pooh's desire to get to the very bottom of that honey pot? (Or, what Ben & Jerry's fan hasn't identified with it?)
Check out some fun facts about Winnie — both the real-life bear and the character — below.
Winnie Was Based On A Canadian Black Bear
Winnie was actually a young black bear from Toronto, Ontario. She was bought by Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, whose granddaughter is Finding Winnie's author, Lindsay Mattick.
Colebourn was a veterinarian who bought the cub from a hunter for a mere $20 at the beginning of World War I. He named her after his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba (it's Canada's third largest city, and it's ridiculously cold). She became the unofficial pet of Colebourn's regiment.
When the regiment became too busy and had to ship out to France, Colebourn donated Winnie to the London Zoo — where she later inspired Winnie the Pooh.
Christopher Robin Was Also A Real Person
Winnie the Pooh author Milne used to take his young son, Christopher Robin Milne, to visit real-life Winnie at the London Zoo. Christopher developed a soft spot for Winnie, and named his stuffed bear after her.
Seeing his son play with his menagerie of stuffed animals, Milne wrote the famous children's book. Not everyone was pleased with the occurrence, though — namely, Christopher Robin himself. Later becoming an author himself, Christopher Robin wrote, "It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders," and thought his dad left him with an "empty fame."
Winnie The Pooh's Gone Through Many Changes
The Winnie the Pooh character we know and love didn't begin life looking like he did today. After his start as a (female) black bear, he was sketched for Milne's books by E.H. Shepard, a political cartoonist. Later, the rights to Winnie the Pooh were bought by Stephen Slesinger, who added the bear's trademark red t-shirt.
Later, Slesinger's wife sold the rights to Disney, then unsuccessfully tried to sue the company for more money after the 1961.
Winnie The Pooh Has Been Popular For Over A Century
If we're starting with the real bear's adoption in 1915, Winnie the Pooh has been killing it for nearly a century. The animated bear became a keystone success for Milne, Slesinger, and Disney — the latest film was released as recently as 2011 and Winnie is rumored to bring in as much cash as the Mickey Mouse gang. We might even be seeing a live-action Winnie the Pooh in the future — though that sounds rather dangerous.
The Internet, Of Course, Is Going Insane
Winnie the Pooh was inspired by a female black bear, so of course, the internet is losing its sh*t.
Don't worry, folks. It's just Winnie the bear that's a girl, not Winnie the Pooh. But hey, remember how we all used to think Piglet was a girl before we saw the movies? We got over that, too.
Images: Disney; Giphy (5)