Soldier Bear

This Polish soldier and his ursine colleague form a charming sculpture that stands in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens.  Created by sculptor Alan Heriot, it was unveiled in November 2015.

Wojtek in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh,  August 2016

The bear was rescued as a cub in the Middle East in 1943 after his mother was killed by hunters.  He was later adopted by some Polish soldiers who cared for him and named him Wojtek.  They incorporated him into army life by training him to carry heavy mortar rounds and when the forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take him with them was to “enlist” him.  He was drafted into the Polish Army as a Private and was listed among the soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company.

At the end of the  World War 2, the 22nd Company was transported to Berwickshire in Scotland and Wojtek, of course, accompanied them.  When the Polish soldiers were demobilised he was taken to Edinburgh Zoo where he resided until his death in 1963.





aDSC_0636_ppCopyright Debbie Smyth, 27 September 2016



Part of Thursday Special: Companionable

And a thank you to Restless Jo for reminding me about Wojtek in her walk around Edinburgh




16 thoughts on “Soldier Bear

    1. Animal welfare is understood much better now, in some parts of the world, at least. In war times, over 70 years ago, I think he was lucky to survive. And hopefully he helped people to love and respect these amazing animals.

      Sent from my iPhone


      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a very interesting combination – survival for the bear and it must have given teh soldiers some missing hope and affection at a very difficult time. Sadly, the bear ended up drinking beer and smoking, but I think the full story is positive

      On Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 8:43 PM, Travel with Intent wrote:



    1. I think he is very popular with the Polish who live in the area. And he always seems hard to get a good photo of. Crowds and light get in the way! This took quite a bit of editing.

      It’s a great story though, isn’t it. And I’d never heard of it before spotting him from the bus stop up above! And using good old Wikipedia.

      Sent from my iPhone



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