This is the story of the most unlikely of all soldiers – Wojtek the bear, who was trained by World War II soldiers.
In the distant 1942 a female Polish refugee residing in Iran bought a brown bear cub from a local boy, who had found it in the capital city. Unfortunately, the baby bear became too big for the woman, so she decided to give it to the Polish Army. The soldiers not only trained the bear to respond to basic commands, but they also thought it a number of tricks, which later turned the cub into a star. The soldiers named it Wojtek (an old Polish name meaning “smiling warrior” or “he, who enjoys war”). Wojtek was fed with condensed milk, syrup, marmalade, fruit and honey. He was even given beer as a reward. Not only that, the bear was also taught how to salute when he was greeted by humans. He became a huge attraction among both civilians and soldiers.
Wojtek was given a corporal rank in the Polish Army and he even participated in World War II by carrying his fellow soldiers’ ammunition during the Battle of Monte Casino. He retired after the war in the Edinburgh Zoo, where he was the center of attention among many journalists and tourists. He died at the zoo at the age of 22.