In Princes Street Gardens just of Princes Street you will find Wojtek the Soldier Bear memorial. Unveiled on November 7th 2015 the bronze statue commemorates Wojtek a brown bear as well as the Polish soldiers who fought in WW2.
The story begins in Iran in 1942 when members of the Polish 2nd Corps adopted an orphaned bear cub. He quickly became one of the men, drinking beer, wrestling with the soldiers and swimming but more importantly he became a valuable resource in carrying supplies.
Due to a rule forbidding soldiers taking pets to the front lines he was enlisted in the 22nd Artillery Transport Company of the 2nd Corps and given the rank of Private, he had his own identification number and paybook.
At the Battle of Monte Cassino Wojtek was kept back near an artillery firing line and was observed to carry crates of shells back and forward to the gun emplacements.
So enamoured were the Polish soldiers of Wojtek that the image of a bear carrying an artillery shell became the official emblem of the 22nd Company.
When the war ended in 1945 Wojtek was transported to Berwickshire Scotland with the rest of the 22nd Company and upon demobilization in 1947 he was passed to Edinburgh Zoo where he lived until his death in 1963.
Wojtek is still fondly remembered both by the Poles and Scottish alike and the memorial in Edinburgh is a fitting tribute to the brave Polish forces of WW2 and of one very special bear.