Comment: Wojtek statue welcome addition to city

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the unveiling of the statue of Wojtek the bear in Princes Street Gardens at the weekend will be a joyful occasion.

There are those who object to the idea of a statue of what was essentially a performing bear in a prestigious spot in heart of the Capital. Of course there are many, many individuals who are far more worthy of the honour than 
Wojtek. And looking back on his story through modern eyes does raise some uncomfortable issues about the treatment of animals.

This, however, is to look at the tale of Wojtek and his place in our history through very narrow eyes. The wonderfully crafted statue will do far more than celebrate an 
extraordinarily colourful story of true heroism, although that in itself is very worthwhile. The heroism it honours is not that of the bear himself but the soldiers who fought with the Free Polish Army in the Second World War.

Beyond that, it celebrates the strong historic and culture ties linking Poland and Scotland, something that is more pertinent today than ever. For these reasons it is a welcome addition to the city centre landscape.

It does, however, highlight an ongoing historical injustice in the Capital. It has often been commented on that there are more statues of animals in the centre of Edinburgh than there are of women. It is an unfortunate fact that the unveiling of the statue of Wojtek makes this comparison even more embarrassing for the Capital.

There is no shortage of worthy candidates from Elsie Inglis to Muriel Spark, family planning pioneer Marie Stopes to JK Rowling. There are of course historic reasons for the huge imbalance which is seen not only in Edinburgh but across the rest of the UK, too. A great many of these statues were erected during the Victorian age when there was only one woman of significant public standing. Surely though the time has come to put things right.