Undoubtedly the most heroic of all bear subspecies, ursus arctos syrius, or the Syrian brown bear, is the only breed of bear to have a member of its species be a decorated war hero. Wojtek, pronounced “Voytek” (pet name of Wojchiech, meaning “joyful warrior”), was a friendly Syrian brown bear who was willingly conscripted into the Polish Land Forces as a private and served from 1943 to 1945 with the, hauling artillery shells for the 22nd Company.
After the war, Wojtek was promoted to Corporal and was moved to Scotland with the rest of the 22nd Company. Following the demobilization of the Polish Land Forces in 1947, Wojtek left the 22nd Company and co-starred as himself on a children’s show on the BBC called “Blue Peter”. He was payed in cigarettes, which he ate, as he did not know how to use a lighter.
Wojtek died in December of 1963, after fathering eight healthy children with his wife Ewicia, who was also a bear. On the 25th of April, 2013, the Krakow city council had a bronze statue of him erected in Jordana Park in celebration of his efforts during the Battle of Monte Cassino . On September 16th, 2013, the City of Edinburgh gave him another statue, him posing with a Polish artilleryman, because he was a great bear.