16 Aug 2008

Military penguin becomes a 'Sir'

11:16 am on 16 August 2008

A penguin who was previously a Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian Army has been knighted at Edinburgh Zoo.

Nils Olav has been an honorary member and mascot of the Norwegian King's Guard since 1972.

Over the years, he has been promoted through the ranks after being adopted by Royal Guard who visited the zoo.

During the ceremony, Nils had a sword dubbed on each side of his head, where his shoulders should be, to confirm his regimental knighthood.

Several hundred people joined the 130 guardsmen at the zoo for the investiture. A citation from King Harald V of Norway was read, which described Nils as a penguin "in every way qualified to receive the honour and dignity of knighthood".

The guardsmen come to see Nils every few years while they are in Edinburgh performing at the Military Tattoo.

The proud penguin was on his best behaviour throughout most of the ceremony, but he was seen to deposit a discreet white puddle on the ground shortly before the ritual was concluded; possibly due to a bout of nerves.

However, the BBC reports the penguin honoured on Friday is unfortunately not the original Nils Olav.

He died in the 1980s and was replaced by a two-year-old penguin at the Zoo.

Norway presented the zoo with its first king penguin in 1913, the year of its opening.