55°56′40″N 3°16′20″W / 55.94444°N 3.27222°W / 55.94444; -3.27222

Nils Olav
Nils Olav II in 2008
SpeciesKing penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus)
HatchedEdinburgh, Scotland
ResidenceEdinburgh Zoo
Named afterNils Egelien & Olav V of Norway
Military career
Allegiance Norway
Service/branch Norwegian Army
Years of service
  • 1972–1987 (first)
  • 1987 – after 2008 (second)
  • before 2016 – present (third)[1]
Rank Major General
UnitHans Majestet Kongens Garde (Colonel-in-chief and military mascot)

Major General Sir Nils Olav III, Baron of the Bouvet Islands (Norwegian: [ˌnɪls ˈôːlɑv]) is a king penguin who resides in Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland. He is the mascot[2][3][4] and colonel-in-chief of the Norwegian King's Guard. The name 'Nils Olav' and associated ranks have been passed down through three king penguins since 1972 – the current holder being Nils Olav III.[1][5]

History Edit

The family of Norwegian shipping magnate Christian Salvesen gave a king penguin to Edinburgh Zoo when the zoo opened in 1913.[2]

When the Norwegian King's Guard visited the Edinburgh Military Tattoo of 1961 for a drill display,[6] a lieutenant named Nils Egelien became interested in the zoo's penguin colony. When the King's Guard returned to Edinburgh in 1972, Egelien arranged for the regiment to adopt a penguin. This penguin was named Nils Olav in honour of Nils Egelien, commander of the drill platoon, and Olav Siggerud, contigent commander of HMKG in 1972.[7]

Sir Nils inspects troops of the King's Guard, of which he is colonel-in-chief, following his knighthood ceremony in 2008. Military insignia is attached to his right flipper.
The bronze statue of Nils Olav

Nils Olav was initially given the rank of visekorporal (lance corporal) in the regiment. He has been promoted each time the King's Guard has returned to the zoo. In 1982 he was made a corporal, and promoted to sergeant in 1987.[2] Nils Olav I died shortly after his promotion to sergeant in 1987, and his place was taken by Nils Olav II, a two-year-old near-double. He was promoted in 1993 to the rank of regimental sergeant major and in 2001 promoted to 'honourable regimental sergeant major'.[2] On 18 August 2005, he was appointed as colonel-in-chief of the same regiment.[2][8] During the 2005 visit, a 4-foot-high (1.2 m) bronze statue of Nils Olav was presented to Edinburgh Zoo.[2] The statue's inscription includes references to both the King's Guard and to the Military Tattoo. A statue also stands at the King's Guard compound at Huseby, Oslo.

The next honour was a knighthood, awarded during a visit by soldiers from the Norwegian King's Guard on 15 August 2008.[9] The knighthood was approved by King Harald V and Nils was the first penguin to receive such an honour in the Norwegian Army.[10] During the ceremony a crowd of several hundred people watched the 130 guardsmen on parade at the zoo, and a citation from the King was read out, which described Nils as a penguin "in every way qualified to receive the honour and dignity of knighthood".[11]

A third penguin, Nils Olav III, took over at some point between 2008 and 2016.[1] On 22 August 2016 he was promoted to brigadier in a ceremony attended by over 50 members of the King's Guard, outranking his namesake, Nils Egelien, and in August 2023 he was promoted to major general.[1][2][12][13][14]

The human military officer Nils Egelien died on 11 December 2020, aged 87. [15]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d "King penguin made a Brigadier in Edinburgh". BBC News. 22 August 2016. Archived from the original on 23 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Sir Nils Olav". Edinburgh Zoo. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  3. ^ Panganiban, Roma (4 April 2013). "Sir Nils Olav, Norway's Penguin Knight". mentalfloss.com. Archived from the original on 8 April 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Military penguin becomes a 'sir'". BBC. 15 August 2008. Archived from the original on 6 November 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Norwegian Knight". Scandinavian Press. Vol. 15, no. 4. Fall 2008. p. 9.
  6. ^ "The Edinburgh Military Tattoo Programme 1961". Archived from the original on 7 October 2006. Retrieved 2 March 2007.
  7. ^ Eikli, Erling. "Generalmajor Nils Olav III: Ikke oppkalt etter kong Olav" (in Norwegian). Forsvarets Forum. Retrieved 24 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Nils Olav promoted to Colonel in Chief". Norwegian Consulate in Edinburgh. 17 August 2005. Archived from the original on 1 October 2006. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  9. ^ "King penguin receives Norwegian knighthood" Archived 21 October 2020 at the Wayback Machine. 15 August 2008. NBC News. Retrieved 13 June 2010. (Archived on 13 June 2010)
  10. ^ "Penguin power: Norwegian regiment honours pint-sized chief". Sydney: ABC News. 16 August 2008. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Military penguin becomes a 'Sir'". BBC News. 15 August 2008. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2008.
  12. ^ "Nils Olav the most famous king penguin in the world, parades his way to a new honour". Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. 22 August 2016. Archived from the original on 23 August 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Sir Nils Olav". Atlas Obscura. Archived from the original on 27 December 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  14. ^ https://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/news/article/22118/sir-nils-olav-promoted-at-edinburgh-zoo/
  15. ^ https://www.aftenposten.no/nekrolog/i/vAkaoj/nils-steen-egelien

External links Edit