Wojtek was a Syrian brown bear who somewhat famously “served” in the Polish military during WWII. I mean, the scare quotes are probably not required; he absolutely did mimic his soldier caretakers, and that included saluting, marching, and literally carrying ammo crates, which sounds a lot like literally serving to me.
For bureaucratic reasons, he was also officially conscripted first as a private, and later promoted to corporal, so yeah, he served. After the war, he retired to a zoo in Scotland, where he lived until 1963. Animal behavior blogger “Why Animals Do The Thing” has more pictures, which are kind of amazing.
It’s possible, though, that my favorite thing about this story is his wikipedia page, and specifically the set of categories he belongs to. They include:
- List of individual bears; and
- Poles in the United Kingdom