Penguin from Edinburgh Zoo Promoted to the Rank of Major General in the Norwegian Army
Major General Sir Nils Olav III, Baron of the Bouvet Islands, has now become the most decorated penguin in the world, perhaps even in the universe. This prestigious promotion occurred within the Norwegian armed forces, as reported by Euronews.
Sir Nils Olav III, a resident of Penguin's Rock at the Edinburgh Zoo, was bestowed the honorary rank of Major General in the Royal Guard of Norway as their official mascot on Monday. Approximately 160 soldiers donned in their uniforms visited the Scottish zoo to pay a unique tribute to this distinguished penguin.
The honored bird, who was already a brigadier general, now holds the grandiose title of Major General Sir Nils Olav III, Baron of the Bouvet Islands. Nevertheless, he is one among a long line of royal penguins serving in the Norwegian armed forces.
In 1961, the Norwegian Royal Guard visited Edinburgh, and Lieutenant Nils Egeleien fell in love with the penguin colony at the zoo. He found their march remarkably similar to that of the black-and-white bird. Ten years later, upon his return to the Scottish capital, Egeleien arranged for the Royal Guard to adopt the penguin. He was named Nils Olav in honor of Nils Egeleien and King Olav V of Norway, who was reigning at the time.
Each time Scandinavian soldiers visited Scotland, their penguin was promoted, even though new birds assumed the mantle of the old. The ceremonial troops also annually send fish and Christmas cards to the penguin.
After a meticulously organized parade alongside His Majesty the King's Guard and the Norwegian Drill Team, who are performing at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo this year, Sir Nils received his new insignia at a special ceremony. This honor signifies that he has surpassed the soldier he was named after in the 1970s.
"I am delighted to welcome Sir Nils Olav III to the rank of Major General," said Jason Barrett, Chief Operating Officer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He highly praised the "rich history, honor, and tradition" brought by His Majesty the King's Guard of Norway, stating that they have been "devoted fans for many years."
Sir Nils Olav has advanced through three incarnations in his career. He began as a mascot in 1972, became a corporal in 1982, a sergeant in 1987, and a regimental sergeant major in 1993. The Royal black-and-white-yellow penguin was knighted in 2008 personally by King Harald V of Norway and was promoted to brigadier general in 2016 for his outstanding service.
"His promotion this August for good conduct and as an excellent example for the rest of the penguins at Edinburgh Zoo is a significant milestone in his career as a mascot protector," said Staff Sergeant Fredrik Gresset of His Majesty the King's Guard.
The first royal penguin was gifted to Edinburgh Zoo when it opened in 1913 by a Norwegian shipping magnate.
David Field, Executive Director of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, described Monday's ceremony as "a moment of pride symbolizing the enduring close cooperation between our two countries, Scotland and Norway."
Officer Nils Egeleien passed away on December 11, 2020, at the age of 87.