Abigail Woods
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The 'real Winnie' was a 'zoo celebrity'

The skull of the bear that inspired the creation of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories is going to be put on display at the Hunterian Museum in London.

Winnie the bear had lived most of her life in London Zoo.

Abigail Woods, professor in the history of human and animal health at King's College London, says Winnie would have been an important commercial attraction for the zoo.

"People would come to the zoo specifically to meet Winnie, to watch her playing, to have photographs taken with her, feed her honey," said Prof Woods.

The use of human names for animals was a way of helping visitors to connect with animals, "not to see them as wild animals, but as friendly companions".

And when zoo animals died, their bodies were sought after as being "very valuable for scientific research", said Prof Woods, who is researching the relationship between human and animal health.

  • 20 Nov 2015