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.
The Remarkable Exploits Of This Natzi-Fighting Bear Are Truly Inspirational. April 1, 2023