Monday, January 28, 2008


For starters let me say, I am usually against human and bear or any other wild animal interaction, so you'll never see me at a circus. That being said I just had to write something about this, partly because it's about a bear, one of my favorite animals and partly because that bear spent the last years of his colorful life in Scotland. Recruited by the Second Polish Transport Company during the Second World War Voytek was a bear like no other. Having lost his mother at an early age he was found wandering in the hills of Iran by the Polish. The men fed him condensed milk and let him sleep in one of their washing up bowls. He would cry when left alone and cover his eyes when they told him off. When he got older they trained him to carry mortar shells. After being deployed to Italy in 1944 to supply Allied troops with food and ammunition, the only way to take their bear with them was to officially enlist him - so he was given a name, rank and number. Voytek travelled in the munitions trucks, his head hanging out of the window, ignoring almost constant shellfire. His job was to deliver 25lb boxes of shells down the line. In his spare time he would wrestle with the men, and was said to enjoy the occasional beer! When the war ended he and his fellow troops were sent to Scotland and he lived the rest of his life in Edinburgh Zoo, dying in 1963. There's now a campaign under way to erect a permanent memorialfor the wonderful Voytek and I for one am all for it!

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