At the start of World War I, a young lieutenant named Harry Colebourn, who also happened to be a veterinarian, is on his way with his regiment to a military training camp in Quebec, when he sees a baby bear on a station platform. He discovers that the baby bear is for sale, for only $20.00, and Harry decides he has to have it.
The little cub, whose mother had been inadvertently shot, is named after the regiment’s hometown of Winnipeg, but immediately shortened to Winnie. Winnie quickly becomes Harry’s constant companion and his company’s mascot. Walker depicts Harry and Winnie playing their own version of hide and seek, Winnie sleeping directly under Harry’s cot, and exchanging big bear hugs.
Even when the war worsens and Harry’s regiment is sent overseas, Winnie goes, too. And proves to be a good sailor all the way across the ocean, while Harry lies in bed seasick. But when it is time to go to the battle front in France, Harry realizes he can’t bring Winnie along, after all, she could get seriously hurt on the battlefield. So Harry makes a tough decision – to place Winnie in the London Zoo for safekeeping. (Continue Reading)