In 1942, Polish soldiers, who had been released from Russian POW camps to join in the fight against Nazi Germany, adopted an orphaned Syrian brown bear cub from a boy in northern Iran. The bear would become the pet and mascot of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps.
The bear, named Wojtek, reportedly even fought alongside his fellow Polish soldiers at the savage Battle of Monte Cassino in the spring of 1944, carrying heavy crates of mortar shells. With the approval of the Polish high command, the company's emblem was then changed to one showing a bear carrying a massive artillery shell. After the war, Wojtek lived in Edinburgh Zoo until his death in 1963. Books, statues and even a documentary keep the memory of his unique service alive.