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Meet Major General Sir Nils Olav III: The World’s Most Badass Penguin!

In the charming and unlikely setting of Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, there resides a penguin who’s not your average bird. This feathered fellow goes by the name of Major General Sir Nils Olav III, Baron of the Bouvet Islands, and he’s the top-ranking penguin on the planet. Yes, you read that right – a penguin with a military title!

Sir Nils Olav being promoted to Major General

Now, you might be wondering, what’s the story behind this prestigious penguin’s rise through the ranks? Well, it all started way back in 1913 when the Norwegian family of Christian Salvesen gifted the zoo its very first king penguin. Little did they know that this would set in motion a remarkable journey.

Fast forward to 1961 when the Norwegian King’s Guard paid a visit to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for a drill display. Major Nils Egelien of the King’s Guard was captivated by the regal march of the king penguins at the zoo. He saw a resemblance between these proud birds and the disciplined soldiers under his command.

When the King’s Guard returned to Edinburgh in 1972, Major Egelien decided to adopt one of the king penguins as their official military mascot. The lucky penguin was named after him and King Olav V of Norway. Sir Nils, as he was now known, started as a humble Lance Corporal but quickly climbed the military ladder.

Sir Nils once met Princess Anne

Here’s a rundown of his promotions:

  • 1982: Corporal
  • 1987: Sergeant
  • 1993: Regimental Sergeant Major
  • 2001: Honourable Regimental Sergeant Major
  • 2005: Colonel-in-Chief
  • 2008: Knighthood (King Harald V of Norway did the honors)
  • 2016: Brigadier
  • 2023: Major General

Today, Sir Nils holds the impressive title of Major General, the third-highest rank in the Norwegian Army. But this penguin didn’t achieve these promotions without reason. He’s earned every medal and honor through his outstanding service and exemplary conduct.

The Norwegian King’s Guard holds Sir Nils in high regard, and they pay him a visit every few years during their appearances at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. His keeper, Alison MacLean, notes that Sir Nils loves the attention and the theatrics.

Michael Livingstone shows Sir Nils his certificate

Outside his enclosure, you’ll find a 4-ft bronze statue of Sir Nils, a testament to his fame. There’s even an identical statue at the Norwegian King’s Guard base in Oslo.

Recently, Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief, Craig Glenday, visited the zoo to update Sir Nils’s record and present him with a shiny new certificate. He remarked on the uniqueness of Sir Nils’s achievements, comparing him to other notable knights like Sir Richard Branson and Sir Christopher Lee. After all, how many knights can swim to a depth of 50 meters at 8 miles per hour with a mouthful of fish?

Michael Livingstone, Senior Penguin Keeper at RZSS, expressed pride in receiving Sir Nils’s updated world record title. It’s not every day you work with a knighted penguin and a Guinness World Records holder!

So, next time you’re at Edinburgh Zoo, don’t forget to pay your respects to Major General Sir Nils Olav III, the world’s most distinguished penguin. He’s not just a bird; he’s a legend!”

Craig Glenday pays Sir Nils a visit
Alison MacLean with Sir Nils

All Credit Goes To The GuinnessWorldRecords



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