23 August 2016

King penguin Nils Olav parades his way to a new honour

Photo credit: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo
UK – On  22 August, His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard paid a very special visit to RZSS Edinburgh Zoo to bestow a unique honour upon one of its resident king penguins, Sir Nils Olav. Already a knight, the most famous king penguin in the world was given the new title of “Brigadier Sir Nils Olav”.

The prestigious title was awarded during a special ceremony that was attended by over 50 uniformed soldiers of His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard, who are taking part in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo this year. Sir Nils inspected the soldiers of the Guard as he paraded his way up Penguin Walk.

Nils Olav’s story goes back as far as 1972, when a king penguin at Edinburgh Zoo was named after two people: Major Nils Egelien, who organised his adoption by the zoo in 1972, and the then-King of Norway, King Olav.

The Guardsmen visit Sir Nils every few years while they are in the city performing at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and give him a new promotion. Since his adoption in 1972, he has worked his way up the ranks, starting at Mascot, before being promoted to Corporal in 1982, Sergeant in 1987, Regimental Sergeant Major in 1993, Honourable Regimental Sergeant Major in 2001, Colonel-in-Chief in 2005, knighthood in 2008 (an honour approved by King Harald V of Norway) and now Brigadier Sir.

“We are honoured to host His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard as they bestow a prestigious new title upon our king penguin, Sir Nils Olav,” said Barbara Smith, Acting Chief Executive Officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

“It is a very proud moment and represents the close collaboration between our two countries, Scotland and Norway.”

Brigadier David Allfrey, Producer and Chief Executive of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, added, “This is just a simply fantastic example of the great relations between our two countries, and it couldn’t be a more charming tradition.

“At the Tattoo we of course have many inspecting officers but this is by far my favourite. Congratulations, Brigadier Olav!”

Nils Olav the most famous king penguin in the world, parades his way to a new honour [media release], 22 August 2016, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

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