Sir Nils Olav
|Species||king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus)|
|Born||Sir Nils Olav III|
|Hatched||c. 2008 (age 10–11)|
|Years of service||1972–1987 (first)|
1987–after 2008 (second)
before 2016–present (third)
|Rank||Brigadier, colonel-in-chief and mascot|
|Unit||Hans Majestet Kongens Garde|
Brigadier Sir Nils Olav is a king penguin who resides in Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland. He is the mascot 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.
Role in the military
When the Norwegian King's Guard visited the Edinburgh Military Tattoo of 1961 for a drill display, a lieutenant named Nils Egelien became interested in the zoo's penguin colony. When the Guards once again returned to Edinburgh in 1972, he arranged for the regiment to adopt a penguin. This penguin was named Nils Olav in honour of Nils Egelien and King Olav V of Norway.
Nils Olav I was 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. 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'. On 18 August 2005, he was appointed as colonel-in-chief of the same regiment. The next honour was a knighthood, awarded during a visit by soldiers from the Norwegian King's Guard on 15 August 2008. The knighthood was approved by King Harald V and Nils was the first penguin to receive such an honour in the Norwegian Army. During the ceremony a crowd of several hundred people joined the 130 guardsmen on parade at the zoo, to hear a citation from the King read out, which described Nils as a penguin "in every way qualified to receive the honour and dignity of knighthood".
During the 2005 visit, a 4-foot-high (1.2 m) bronze statue of Nils Olav was presented to Edinburgh Zoo. 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.
A third penguin, Nils Olav III, took over at some point between 2008 and 2016. On 22 August 2016 he was promoted to brigadier in a ceremony attended by over 50 members of the King's Guard.
- "King penguin made a Brigadier in Edinburgh". BBC News. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- "Sir Nils Olav". Edinburgh Zoo. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- Panganiban, Roma (4 April 2013). "Sir Nils Olav, Norway's Penguin Knight". mentalfloss.com. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "Military penguin becomes a 'sir'". BBC. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "Norwegian Knight". Scandinavian Press. 15 (4). Fall 2008. p. 9.
- "Military penguin becomes a 'Sir'". BBC News. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2008.
- The Edinburgh Military Tattoo Programme 1961
- Norwegian Consulate in Edinburgh.
- "King penguin receives Norwegian knighthood". 15 August 2008. MSNBC. Retrieved 13 June 2010. (Archived on 13 June 2010)
- "Penguin power: Norwegian regiment honours pint-sized chief". Sydney: ABC News. 16 August 2008.
- "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. Retrieved 24 August 2016.