Wojtek, the pet bear with drinking habits which was enlisted as a soldier

Wojtek the pet bear

Wojtek, a pet bear was enlisted as a soldier in WWII. The story of this pet dates back in the 1942.

After their liberation from a Siberian concentration camp, soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish Army were traveling to Lebanon. At that time, they met a poor boy who stopped them to ask for food.

Eventually, they decided to stop and shared some of the food they had with them. The little boy was carrying a sack.

Surprisingly they found a small brown bear cub inside. The boy explained that he had found him in a cave, where he had hidden after his mother was killed by a hunter.

This has greatly moved the soldiers, who decided to buy it from the boy and make it a pet bear.

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From pet bear to soldier

It didn’t take long for the bear, Wojtek, to become a beloved member of the group of soldiers. The men greatly enjoyed his company during their stay in the Middle East.

Though initially it was a simple pet bear, gradually the animal becoming one of them. The proof? He even left the milk bottles, and joined his soldier friends for vodka bottles, beer and cigarettes.

Moreover, most of the time he walked on two legs and sat like a person. People who knew him used to say that the animal itself believed that it was a human being.

Unfortunately, in 1944, was the end of the cheering days for the pet bear. When the Polish army was called in to fight in Italy. Wojtek traveled with them to the Port of Alexandria, but once there he could not accompany his friends.

The soldiers were told that animals were not allowed on board of the ship reserved for them. The men did not feel like giving up on their pet. To make him eligible for the sail, they decided to enlist him as a soldier.

Though it was a crazy idea, the bear did quite well in his newly inaugurated position.

Very often he helped his teammates in whatever way he could. His most frequent task was to transport the ammunition boxes.

In fact, this is how a drawing of him carrying a projectile on his shoulder ended up becoming the insignia of the company.


After this battle, they went to the United Kingdom and it was time for each soldier to return home to their families. Unfortunately, Wojtek had no home to go to. So, they transferred him to the Winfield Park Zoo. He spent the rest of his days there and died in mid-1963 when he was 22 years old.

For those who knew him, this pet bear was a friend, a partner.