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10 ways animals have served the military

By: Laura Moss on Sept. 17, 2010, 11:20 a.m.
voytek solider bear

Photo: Imperial War Museum/Wikimedia Commons

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Soldier bear

Voytek was just a baby brown bear when the Second Polish Transport Company found him wandering the hills of Iran in 1943. The soldiers took him in, feeding him condensed milk, and before long he became a part of the unit — even enjoying beers and cigarettes with his fellow soldiers.

As Voytek grew into a 6-foot, 250-pound bear, he was trained to carry mortar shells and boxes of ammunition during battle, and in 1944 he was officially enlisted in the Polish Army — complete with name, rank and number. The bear traveled with his unit, carried ammunition to soldiers under fire and once even discovered an Arab spy hiding in the unit’s bath hut. After the war, the Edinburgh Zoo became Voytek’s new home and he lived there until he died in 1963.