It’s kind of astonishing that the World War II-era exploits of Private Wojtek haven’t earned greater glory. He served in the Polish army in the fight against the Axis. He voluntarily braved Nazi fire to help soldiers unload artillery shells. And the good-natured Wojtek provided “much-needed entertainment and distraction during brutal desert warfare,” according to a recent article on AOL News.
Maybe what obscured his place in history is the fact that Wojtek was a 6-foot-tall, 500-pound bear acquired by the army as a cub. But the city of Edinburgh — in whose zoo Wojtek spent his post-war retirement — is about to honor the hirsute soldier with a £200,000 statue by Scottish sculptor Alan Herriot. “It is the bear’s relationship with his comrades which is portrayed in Herriot’s sculpture — as opposed to the famous image of him carrying a mortar shell in his paws,” according to the UK Telegraph.