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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 17:39 GMT
Hollywood hope for Soldier Bear
Voytek the bear - Picture courtesy Imperial War Museum
The bear may feature in a film (Picture: Imperial War Museum)
Campaigners seeking a memorial to a bear which fought in World War II say Hollywood producers want to turn his story into a feature film.

They were contacted after the story of Voytek - the Soldier Bear - appeared on the BBC Scotland News website.

The bear saw action at Monte Cassino but was later billeted in the Borders and ended his days at Edinburgh Zoo.

Local campaigner Aileen Orr said there had been "remarkable interest" in the story including the movie possibility.

Voytek was found wandering in the hills of Iran by Polish soldiers in 1943.

I have had several phone calls from a Hollywood production company about it
Aileen Orr

They adopted and trained him and when they were deployed to Europe the only way to take the bear with them was to "enlist" him.

So he was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign.

After the war, he was stationed near Hutton in the Scottish Borders before moving to Edinburgh Zoo where he died in 1963.

The story appears to have caught the eye of American film producers.

"There has been remarkable interest shown in this story," Ms Orr said.

"It is now being considered as a Hollywood film.

"I have had several phone calls from a Hollywood production company about it."

Fond of beer

She added she had been asked to keep the full details of the project secret.

However, the American film producer is understood to be of Polish extraction and the story was brought to his attention after it appeared on the BBC website.

The article was viewed more than 400,000 times after it appeared last week.

Voytek was something of a local celebrity when he was stationed in the Borders.

He was fond of a cigarette and a bottle of beer - a taste which apparently remained with him throughout his time in Scotland.

Campaigners now hope to see a permanent memorial built to the bear, possibly at Holyrood.

Honour sought for 'Soldier Bear'
25 Jan 08 |  South of Scotland


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