Did you know that there is a penguin who is a general in the Norwegian army? His name is Sir Nils Olaf III, and he lives at the Edinburgh Zoo. He is the official mascot of His Majesty the King’s Guard of Norway, and he has been honoured with a guard of honour and a promotion ceremony by 160 uniformed soldiers.
Nils Egelien was a Major in the Norwegian King’s Guard who adopted a penguin from Edinburgh Zoo in 1972 and named him after himself and King Olav of Norway who was on the throne at the time.
This tradition started in 1961, when the Norwegian King’s Guard visited the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo for a drill display. Major Nils Egelien was so impressed by the zoo’s penguin colony that he adopted one of them and named him after himself. Since then, the Norwegian soldiers have kept in touch with the penguin Sir Nils, sending him fish and Christmas cards every year and visiting him when they are in Edinburgh.
Sir Nils Olaf III is the third penguin to bear this name and rank. He inherited it from his predecessor, who died in 2015. He is also the highest-ranking penguin in the world, outranking the soldier he was named after. He is known for his impeccable posture and discipline, standing to attention when he sees the soldiers.
Sir Nils Olaf III is a remarkable example of the bond between humans and animals and a source of pride for both Norway and Scotland. If you are in Edinburgh, don’t miss the chance to see this extraordinary penguin and his companions at the zoo. You might even catch a glimpse of his medal, which he wears on his flipper.
Read the text below with the other examples, and in groups of 2 or 3, choose one of the animals you would like to get to know better. Make a short presentation for the rest of your class with your findings
There are many animals that have been used in the military for various purposes. Horses, elephants, camels, and other animals have been used for both transportation and mounted attack. Pigeons were used for communication and photographic espionage. Many other animals have reportedly been used in various specialized military functions, including rats and pigs. Dogs have long been employed in a wide variety of military purposes, more recently focusing on guarding and bomb detection, and along with dolphins and sea lions, are in active use today.
- Nils Olav, a penguin who is the colonel-in-chief and official mascot of Norway’s Royal Guard.
- Wojtek the bear was enlisted into the Polish army during World War II.
- G.I. Joe, the pigeon who saved over 1,000 lives during World War II.
- Judy, the dog was the only animal to be registered as a prisoner of war during World War II.
- Sergeant Reckless, the horse who served in the Korean War.