15 January 2021

London Zoo releases online gallery of archive images to mark this year’s Winnie-the-Pooh Day – as historic zoo renews fundraising appeal during lockdown

London Zoo will mark Winnie-the-Pooh Day this Monday (18 January) with the release of rare archive images taken during its almost 200-year history – as the historic zoo renews its urgent call for public support to feed and care for its 18,000 animals during the nationwide lockdown.   
The fascinating online gallery gives a heart-warming glimpse into past life at ZSL’s world-famous zoo and includes an heartwarming image of the inspiration behind the classic children’s story – a Canadian black bear called Winnie, much loved by author A. A Milne's son, Christopher Robin, who often visited her at the zoo.
The images - including that of Winnie with Christopher - are a keen reminder of the role the zoo has played in both science and culture in the last two centuries, and of the need to safeguard its future, following the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

London Zoo's place in the country's cultural history

London Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer, Kathryn England, said: “Winnie-the-Pooh Day is not just a celebration of the classic childhood story – to us it’s a mark of the important place that London Zoo has in the country’s cultural history: it’s where Darwin and Huxley developed much of their thinking, where Sir David Attenborough first began working as a wildlife TV presenter and where millions have been inspired with a love for wildlife.

David Attenborough and Bulu the orangutan in April 1982

“2020 was the most challenging year in our 192-year history, costing the zoo millions of pounds in lost revenue - funds which help us to care for and feed the animals, and carry out ZSL’s vital science and conservation work – and we expect this current lockdown to cost us a further £1.8million. 
“Fans of the famous ‘silly old bear’ can usually flock to London Zoo on Winnie-the-Pooh Day, often bringing their favourite cuddly characters to visit Pooh’s real-life friends - cheery pigs, friendly kangaroos, wise owls and playful tiggers - and posing with the much-loved Winnie statue at the heart of the zoo, giving her nose a traditional rub for good luck. 

Winnie-the-Pooh Day

“But whilst they currently can’t visit, we’re hoping the public will continue to support us through this difficult time - as Sir David Attenborough said when we launched our fundraising campaign during the first lockdown, London Zoo was the first scientific zoo in the country and has been at the forefront of zoological advances ever since - with our doors closed once again we urgently need support to continue our vital work.” 

 First published on 14 October 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh was named after London Zoo’s female black bear, who arrived on 9 December 1914 and was the mascot of a Canadian regiment, the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade, who were in training on Salisbury Plain - she had been purchased earlier that year for $20 by Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, from a hunter in White River, Ontario, who named her Winnie after his hometown of Winnipeg. 
Colebourn intended to eventually take Winnie back to Canada with him and would often visit her at the Zoo while on leave - but after seeing how loved she was by both visitors and staff, decided to leave her in the full-time care of the zoo’s keepers once the war ended. Milne decided to name his fictional character, Pooh Bear, after Winnie, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Two polar bears climbing the snow covered rocks in their enclosure at London Zoo in 1933
© Bond/ZSL

Reliant on income from ticket sales to care for the animals and fund their global conservation efforts, months of enforced closures have put  ZSL’s charity zoos under huge financial pressure. Vets and zookeepers will continue to provide the highest level of care for their animals, working throughout the lockdown. ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoos,  is calling on the public to help ensure they remain open by donating to ZSL at  www.zsl.org/donate        


  • Winnie the bear at London Zoo which inspired Winnie the Pooh
    The real story behind Winnie the Pooh

    Winnie the Pooh origins

    Winnie was one of our most famous residents, a black bear taken in when her mother was killed by a hunter and she has an enduring influence on pop culture today.

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    History of London Zoo

    We’ve been building stronger connections to wildlife for 200 years, deepening understanding of the natural world to shape a healthier, fairer and better future for us all. We won’t stop until that future is here.

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    England's first giraffes

    Giraffe house history

    When giraffes arrived at London Zoo in 1836, they caused a public sensation. Our giraffes were the first to be seen by the public in England, and made Londoners instantly form a connection with the natural world.

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