An Iranian boy found a Syrian brown bear cub in 1942, and sold it to the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps for canned meat. That's how the story of the most famous military animal started.

Having lost his mother, the bear was fed with milk from an emptied vodka bottle.

Wojtek (or Voytek, which means 'he who enjoys war' or 'smiling warrior') was often rewarded with beer, but he liked smoking and eating cigarettes, too.

He enjoyed wrestling and could salute.

Wojtek helped during some bloody battles (including the four-month Battle of Monte Cassino) to carry mortar shells.

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He was officially enlisted: he was given a name, a rank, and a number.

After the end of WWII, the bear and his fellow troops were stationed in Hutton, Scotland, but in November 1947, the bear was moved to the Edinburgh Zoo, where it lived out its days. Wojtek died in December 1963.

(via WW2 Airsoft, The Soldier Bear, bigpicture.ru, mikeeliasz, jkorowicz, BBC, Oddity Central, Retronaut)