This is the story, set in 1914, of the friendship between a Canadian soldier and a bear cub he named Winnie, a cub that eventually inspired the beloved AA Milne stories.

It is August 1914 and World War I has just begun.  Canada is gripped by a patriotic frenzy. Troops gather from all parts of the country.  Lieutenant Harry Colebourn (Michael Fassbender), a veterinarian with the 34th Fort Garry Horse Division, is on his way from his home in Winnipeg when he buys a bear cub. He thinks she will make a great company mascot. But his comrade, Macray (Jonathon Young), predicts trouble. And he’s right. Winnie, named after Winnipeg, quickly causes all kinds of problems, especially with the senior officer, Barret (Gil Bellows) who thinks mascots make the men soft. Luckily General Hallholland (David Suchet) disagrees and Winnie is allowed to stay with Harry and his regiment.

But Winnie is a breath of fresh air for the soldiers faced with the prospect of war. She travels with them all the way to Salisbury Plain in England.

When Harry’s regiment is sent to fight in France, the young vet knows Winnie cannot go any further. He finds a home for her at the London Zoo, and promises to return as soon as the war is over.

At first, Protheroe, the Zookeeper (Stephen Fry), thinks Winnie will not survive locked up in cage torn away from the only family she ever knew. No one plays with her. She is downhearted and lifeless. But when a little girl falls and lies unconscious outside her zoo enclosure, the bear’s loving nature immediately surfaces.

Soon she is the star attraction at the zoo.  She delights and comforts the children whose lives have been torn apart by war and ultimately she inspires the stories of AA Milne through which she lives on forever.