The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Kat Eschner's newsletter about animal-human relationships Vol. 2 Iss. 12

Winnie-the-Pooh derives his name from a *female* Canadian black bear named WInnie after the city of Winnipeg. Winnie ended up in the London Zoo during World War I because of a Canadian army veterinarian (long story, I wrote about it here).

In other news, CREATURE FEATURE has reached the end of Vol. 2 and I’m taking a week off. Watch for Vol. 3 Iss. 1 on July 5, and in the meantime, consider subscribing!

Image description: A soldier bottle-feeds a black bear cub in front of some tents. The bear is chained around the neck.

This is Harry Colebourn feeding Winnie, or Winnipeg. If you grew up in Canada you know this picture from the Heritage Minute, which is not strictly factually accurate in the manner of all nationalistic propaganda. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Seriously, stop feeding the bears

A 2-3 year old black bear was killed by state officials after it got too friendly with the locals, reports Timothy Bella for The Washington Post. Snack-leaving “humans in the nearby boating community… could count on easy selfies with the cub,” he writes, “who was often described on social media as ‘friendly.’”

Fact: As many people who live in bear-heavy areas know, it’s breeding season! That means it’s extra-important to LOCK UP YOUR GARBAGE and give any bears you may see a wide berth. But these things aren’t long-term solutions to the issues of disappearing bear habitat, which have forced black bears and in some places grizzlies into urban environments.

Snakes on a plain

Thousands of snakes emerging from hibernation and fucking is the main visitor draw in Narcisse, Manitoba each spring, writes Ian Austen for The New York Times. This small town doesn’t really have a lot else going on from a global perspective, but it may have the largest population of snakes anywhere in the world.

The snakes around Narcisse have not always been regarded as a natural wonder. Many of the first European settlers tried to exterminate them. They were long harvested for pet stores and companies that supply dissection subjects for schools, leading to fears in the late 1980s that the snakes’ numbers might fall dramatically.

But they are now local heroes of sorts, bringing in tourists at least once a year. The park, which is in the nearby hamlet of Inwood, sports a statue of two vastly oversized and entwined snakes named Sara and Sam.

All thylacines go to heaven

Theoretically, animal de-extinction is possible--that is, using genetic technologies to “bring back” extinct animals. The important question, isn’t “should we?” writes Daniel Kolitz for Gizmodo. It’s “what animal should we de-extinct then domesticate?” Options that scientists say might be good: dodo, tiny hedgehog (haven’t we done enough to hedgehogs?!), tiny horse, buncha dinosaurs.

To this I say:

Extra credit: If you want to know more about why de-extinction is not really as sexy an idea as it’s been billed, try this easy-to-skim list of reasons from a NASA biologist.

Bonus round

More things I read this week.

Please read me

My most recent work. Also I hope somebody has gotten the Nina Simone song stuck in their head by *now.*

  1. Scientists just debunked a major myth about heirloom wheat

  2. The ‘life support system of the biosphere’ is in peril

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact me at my email or on Twitter. If you enjoy this newsletter and would like to tip me, I am on Ko-fi.

CREATURE FEATURE is edited by Tracey Lindeman.

All images in CREATURE FEATURE are used under Creative Commons licensing. Efforts have been made to ensure that photographs of living animals or natural scenes have been taken ethically, in responsible pet ownership conditions, at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums or under safe, non-damaging conditions in the wild. If you see an issue with any image we share, please notify me.