Wojtek The Bear

The statue of Wojtek The Bear was unveiled on 7th November 2015 in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.

Wojtek the Bear - Princes Street Gardens - 21st November 2015

Wojtek (1942–1963) was a Syrian brown bear found in Iran and adopted by soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. He was given the name Wojtek which is a Slavic name meaning ‘joyful warrior’.  Wojtek was officially enlisted as a soldier in the company with the rank of Private then promoted to a Corporal. During the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy during World War II, Wojtek helped soldiers move crates of ammunition.

At the end of World War II the 22nd Company and Wojtek were transported to Winfield Camp at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Wojtek quickly became a local ‘celebrity’ with the locals and press and the Polish-Scottish Association even made him an honorary member. Following demobilisation at the end of 1947, he was given a new home at Edinburgh Zoo where he died  in December 1963 aged 21 years.

The story of Wojtek has been told in a film broadcast in BBC 2 Scotland: Wojtek – The Bear That Went to War and more recently in the book Wojtek The Bear Polish War Hero by Aileen Orr (Published by Birlinn General in 2014 – ISBN-13: 9781843410652).

More details about Wojtek can be found the following websites:

The Soldier Bear

Edinburgh Evening News: Polish veteran unveils ‘soldier bear’ Wojtek statue

Borders Journeys offer half-day and full-day private walking of Edinburgh. Each tour is a wonderful way to explore Scotland’s magnificant capital city while learning about city’s tumultuous history and vibrant culture from our knowledgeable guide Ian. With its historic buildings, grand monuments, beautiful parks, hidden pathways and incredible stories of former inhabitants whose names are etched in their pasts, you’ll remember your visit long after you’ve returned home.

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