A chain smoker, beer lover, skilled entertainer, hefty wrestler, real soldier and a tough enemy to Nazis Army: Wojtek, the soldier bear.
In 1942, a shepherd boy found an orphan baby bear near Hamadan, Iran. He gave it to Irena, a young Polish refugee girl, who donated him to polish soldiers in Iran. They named him Wojtek, meaning “smiling warrior” and taught him to deliver a military salute when greeted. He started smoking cigarettes, and drinking beer. When emptied a bottle peeped into it, wanting more.
Wojtek was much delighted bathing and wrestling with his Polish comrades, but only a few soldiers dared to compete with him in a wrestling match.
Later he travelled through Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and finally settled in Scotland, alongside Polish Army, since he was officially listed as a corporal.
In Palestine, he became a hero one night by capturing a thief and once a scorpion stung him on the nose, but he was back to health in two days.
When British and Polish Army were breaking through the German strongholds in Monte Cassino this rivalry corporal was there to fight with Adolf Hitler’s Army. He was transporting ammunitions but never dropped even a single crate. He was not asked or ordered to do so, but loved to copy the acts of soldiers.
Spending his last years in Edinburgh Zoo, he became a frequent guest on BBC and honorary member of Scottish-Polish association.
Among his memorials are a stone tablet in the Zoo, plaques in war museums in Canada and UK.
Krakow city council in Poland have unveiled a statue of the bear in a Park in 2014, while The Edinburgh City Council have approved to erect a bronze statue of Wojtek in a major park. His biography film have been broadcasted on BBC.
Corporal Wojtek have become a part of the Polish Army history in World War II and his legacy is eternal.
The used photos are from Wikipedia.org: