Penguin p-p-p-picks up new army honour

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The Independent Online

A penguin who was made Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian King's Guard is to be honoured again today by the army regiment.

Edinburgh Zoo penguin Nils Olav is already an honorary member and mascot of the Guard.

Over the years, the famous king penguin has been promoted through the ranks and is currently the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief.

The Guardsmen visit Nils every few years while they are in Edinburgh performing at the city's Military Tattoo.

At a ceremony today, another honour - which has not been revealed - is expected to be bestowed on the special penguin.

Nils Olav first became an honorary member after a young lieutenant called Nils Egelien first visited the penguins at the Zoo in the 1970s.

The animal has received medals for long service and had a 4ft bronze statue built in his honour.

The penguin being honoured today is not the original Nils Olav.

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

David Windmill, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the charity that owns Edinburgh Zoo, said: "We have a long-standing history with the Norwegian King's Guard and it is something we are extremely proud of.

"It's an honour that they take the time to visit us and we are all looking forward to welcoming them on Friday.

"Edinburgh Zoo is famous for its king penguins and Nils Olav is definitely the most famous of them all."

Darren McGarry, animal collection manager at Edinburgh Zoo, added: "Nils always recognises the Norwegian Guardsmen when they come to visit him.

"He loves the attention he receives at the ceremony and takes his time inspecting the troops.

"We're all very excited about his new promotion and we've all been wondering what it could be."

Norwegian King's guardsman, Captain Rune Wiik said: "We are extremely proud of Nils Olav and pleased that an enduring part of the Royal Guard is resident in Scotland helping to further strengthen ties between our two countries."