Penguin Nils picks up another promotion
HE is the most decorated animal at Edinburgh Zoo.
Now, Nils Olav, the city's most powerful penguin, is to receive yet another promotion from the Norwegian Army.
And as if that wasn't enough, the Scandinavian military machine is paying the ultimate homage to the feathery mascot by unveiling a statue in his honour.
The king penguin is shooting through the ranks at such a rate, he could one day even become general.
The latest promotion will see Nils sport a new three-starred Norwegian military badge on his wing.
The 4ft-high bronze sculpture has been commissioned by His Majesty's Guard of the King of Norway to mark the promotion of the army-sponsored penguin.
Not only will it mark a boost in rank for the penguin - appointed an Honourable Regimental Sergeant Major in a ceremony four years ago - but it will also help commemorate 100 years of Norwegian independence.
Events held in the Capital this year to mark the anniversary, include exhibitions, film screenings and concerts.
But Nils' new rank is under wraps until next Wednesday, as was the sculpture which is currently being stored inside a crate at the zoo after being specially shipped over from Norway.
But the Evening News has been given a sneak preview of the statue.
Tattoo spokesman Alan Smith said: "The King's Guard take this whole business very seriously and a lot of work is going into the ceremony."
Hundreds of spectators and dozens of photographers are expected at the unveiling next week at the climax of the ceremony, due to start at around 11am on Wednesday.
A brass band will play outside the penguin enclosure while a guard of honour will greet Nils as he carries out an inspection.
Norway's association with the zoo's famous penguins stretches back to 1961 when young lieutenant Nils Egelien discovered the animals on a visit during the army's first Tattoo appearance.
The king penguins so captivated the soldiers that when they returned in 1972, a penguin was named after the young soldier and Norway's then King Olav, and had the rank of Lance Corporal bestowed on him.
On subsequent Tattoo visits, Nils was promoted to corporal and then sergeant.
When the original Nils died in 1993, he was replaced by a new king penguin, who immediately became a Regimental Sergeant Major.
A spokeswoman for the zoo said the statue would have pride of place outside the penguin enclosure.
Zoo chief executive David Windmill said: "It will be a very special day on Wednesday, and the zoo - and of course Nils - are greatly looking forward to it."
A Norwegian army spokesman said: "The highest rank available is general, so one day, who knows? The sky is the limit for Olav."
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