The Remarkable Exploits Of This Natzi-Fighting Bear Are Truly Inspirational.
Here's an interesting one for you: Wotjek, the Syrian brown bear, was adopted by the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish Army as a cub in 1942.
The troops fed him milk from a bottle when he was young, and graduated to fruit and honey as he got older. He was a great morale booster for the troops. At night, the troops would give Wotjek beer and cigarettes. They would also wrestle with him for entertainment and to blow off steam.
He was so much a part of the troop he was officially signed in to the Polish Army as a private. Wotjek helped his troop in the Battle of Monte Casino by carrying artillery shells weighing as much as 100 pounds to the front line. After the battle, the Polish Army officially changed the insignia of the 22nd Artillery Company to a picture of Wotjek carrying one of these shell. By the time of his discharge, he had earned the rank of corporal.
When the war was over, Wotjek was put in a zoo in Edinburgh, Scotland. Members of his troop stationed in the U.K. would visit him and toss him cigarettes for old time's sake. Some members even jumped the fence to wrestle with him and probably reminisce a little. He died at the age of 22 in 1963.
Wotjek was a member of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company.
The soldiers fed him fruit and honey.
Wotjek was a great morale booster for the troops.
He enjoyed drinking beer.
Wotjek would wrestle with the soldiers.
He earned the affection of all around him.
Wotjek was a true ladies man!
He was officially a private in the Polish Army.
Wotjek enjoyed hanging out with his fellow soldiers,
He is immortalized in a sculpture in London.
A statue by David Harding, memorializing Wotjek's service to the Polish Army, is at the Sikorski Museum in London. Wotjek may not have been fed and treated properly by today's standards, but he was loved and cared for by a group of soldiers in a terrible time in their lives.