We ask children to think of adjectives that could be used to describe Wojtek. Strong, brave, loyal, tall ... these are just some that come to mind.
Wojtek the Soldier Bear
Discover the remarkable story of Wojtek the Soldier Bear and enjoy our accompanying resources - including a printable version of his story, story paper and colouring pages - below.
An Unusual Soldier
Animals have played a role in armed conflict throughout our history, from the horses that played a huge part in World War I, to the messenger pigeons that carried important news over hundreds of miles during the Second World War. However, there is one slightly more unusual animal that aided Polish troops during WW2.
Wojtek the 'Soldier Bear' was the pet mascot of the 22nd Transport Artillery Supply Company, Polish II Corps during the conflict, and his story is truly fascinating.
Wojtek was a Syrian brown bear rescued by Polish troops as they journeyed through Iran. The troops adopted him as a small cub, although he soon grew to over six feet tall and weighed approximately 18 stone, despite his name meaning ‘little one’! Wojtek was extremely tame, gentle and comfortable around humans, and would often play-fight with the troops and even learned to drink beer!
Wojtek the Soldier Bear with one of his friends
When the unit was posted to Italy in 1943, the troops wanted the bear to accompany them, and so Wojtek was enlisted and given both a service number and the rank of Private. Wojtek wasn't just a mascot to boost morale. He proved a valuable asset on the front-line, carrying heavy shells and ammunition! The company’s insignia would later incorporate an image of Wojteck the Soldier Bear carrying the shells.
Badge of the 22nd Artillery Support Company of the 2nd Corps
Happily, Wojtek survived the war, and later travelled with the unit to Scotland, where he lived until 1963 in the peaceful surroundings of Edinburgh Zoo. Many of his Polish friends were regular visitors.
Wojtek in Scotland after the war
There are many statues and memorials to Wojtek, including one in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens. An animated film telling the story of this amazing bear will be released in 2020.
Statue of Wojtek in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens
Commemorative plaque in the Imperial War Museum, London
Our Wojtek the Soldier Bear Resources
This colouring page shows a young Wojtek - still very much a bear cub - being fed by one of the Polish soldiers in his troop. Raised by the men from a very young age, Wojtek became very much a pet for all the men.
When Wojtek grew to full size he stood 6 foot 1 inches tall on his hind legs and could carry as much as 4 men. Nobody trained him to do so - he just saw his fellow soldiers carrying ammunition and joined in. This colouring page captures Wojtek in action!
Children can write the story of Wojtek, the Soldier Bear, in their own words with the help of our story paper. There are 4 pages in the pdf so choose the ones you want to print depending on how much writing the children want to do.