Thursday, May 7, 2009

Voytek The Soldier Bear

Found as a stray cub in Persia in 1942, Voytek the Syrian brown bear cub was adopted by Polish troops stationed nearby, who fed him condensed milk from an empty vodka bottle. As he grew, he became the mascot of the units and was officially drafted into the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps.

He traveled to Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Italy, pulling his weight by moving artillery shells and equipment. Living on a diet of fruit, honey and syrup,and with a special fondness for beer, Voytek slept in tents with the rest of the troops. He was recognized for his outstanding contribution at the Battle of Monte Cassino, Italy, where he transported ammunition.

At war's end, he retired to Scotland and entered the Edinburg Zoo in 1947. Former comrades would often visit, whom Voytek recognized and encouraged to toss him cigarettes to eat, like the old days.

Voytek the Soldier Bear passed away at the age of 22 in 1963.

1 comment:

32˙North Supplies said...

I love him! Such a wonderful story!