Royal feather in the cap for emperor penguin

August 16th, 2008 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Edinburgh, Aug 16 (IANS) Nils Olav was impressive as he marched up to a contingent of the Royal Guard to receive a knighthood on behalf of the King of Norway. Sir Nils is an emperor penguin residing at the Edinburgh zoo.

The six-year-old penguin is the third at the zoo to have enjoyed publicity during the promotional ceremonies, held by the Norwegian King’s Guard when they are in the city to perform at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

A penguin was adopted by the guardsmen at the suggestion of a young lieutenant on a visit to the zoo in 1972 and more honours were conferred on him and his successors in subsequent visits.

The penguin, named after the young soldier Nils Egelien, and Norway’s then King Olav, is so fondly regarded that he even has his own bronze statue near the penguin enclosure, unveiled in 2005 when the penguin was promoted to the rank of honorary colonel-in-chief.

Before Nils had performed his impressive march, Major- General Euan Loudon, chief executive of the Tattoo, who performed the knighting, described him as an “iconic penguin”.

“Scotland and Norway have long historical connections with each other and this is a very important occasion for both the Tattoo and our capital city.”

The king’s citation, which was read out to the crowd, spoke of “our trusty and well-beloved” Nils Olav, reports The Scotsman.

Former soldier Egelien, who travelled to Edinburgh for the ceremony, said he had spoken with the king earlier in the day and he had been “heartily entertained” to hear about the planned ceremony.

Norway gave the zoo its first king penguin in 1913, the year of its opening. It now boasts more than 120 and the penguin pool is the biggest in the world.

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