Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yes, Sir, Penguin, Sir!


I don't know a lot about Norway. I know even less about the military of Norway. But I do know this: I know that penguins shouldn't be in the military, whether you're in Norway or any other -way.

The fine folks over there across the pond at The Metro have informed us that Nils Olav was knighted today by the Norwegian Army. That's not usually something that makes the news, unless the newly knighted knight is a penguin. That is correct. A penguin. (This is not to be confused with "The Penguin", the Batman nemesis. Although strangely enough, that would actually make more sense than this type of penguin becoming a knight.)

The Metro tells us that, "Nils Olav is already a Colonel-in-Chief in the Norwegian King's Guard, as well as being their mascot." Apparently, Nils Olav lives at the Edinburgh Zoo and every few years or so the Guardsmen visit him whenever they are in Edinburgh. Apparently, the Guardsmen make there way there to perform at something called the city's Military Tattoo. And today when they were all together, all Guardsmen and all penguins, Nils Olav was knighted with the permission of King Harald V of Norway. Correct. The King gave permission to make a flightless waterfowl creature a knight. But Nils Olav didn't get there overnight.

Apparently, sometime in the 1970s, a lieutenant named Nils Egelien had seen the penguins at the zoo and liked them. (What's not to like? I mean, they're black and white which is a very popular color combination within the animal kingdom. Think about it. Black and white animals. The zebra. The skunk. The killer whale (come on! People loved that Willy movie.). The cow. And of course, those damn pandas. (Everyone loves a panda for some reason, but I don't know why. Maybe it's because if you're looking at one in the US, you know that it's really not ours and we're just borrowing it from China. That strikes me as odd. Are there any other animals in the world that are loaned out by their country of origin like a library book? Not so much, really. Why can't they just cough up a couple of them and let us keep them? Then we could name them something that makes more sense. Like Steve or Bill. But I digress. Where was I? Oh, right. The penguin in the army. No wonder I got sidetracked.) IN fact, Nils Egelien liked the penguins so much that he made one of them a Lance Corporal.

OK, first of all, does he have the power to do this? And second, how much had this man had to drink? Quite a bit, I'm guessing. But since when can you just go around assigning military ranks to imprisoned zoo animals? I know it's Norway and all, and that I am far from Norwegian, but I think I would have heard something about that by now. Regardless, the bird became a Corporal and it was only up then on.

Since the indoctrination of the Lance Corporal penguin, the bird has "received medals for long service" and "had a 4ft bronze statue built in his honor." No word on WHY the penguin was being honored in bronze, but really, what else is there to do in Norway besides make things out of bronze? But when I say that the penguin has "received medals for long service" what I mean is that A penguin has received medals for long service, as Nils Olav The Original croaked sometime during the 1980s and was replaced with the current Nils Olav The Imposter.

But that doesn't matter to anyone over there, least of all the zoo employees. David Windmill (cute) who is the 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 honor 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." I'm just going to take his word for it. I'm still working on the "we knighted a penguin" concept they all seem perfectly fine with.

Then we have Darren McGarry. He's the animal collection manager at the zoo. He says that ,"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." Clearly, this man is under the impression that a penguin, yes, a penguin is capable of "inspecting" troops. Sir, it's a penguin. It doesn't even know what a "troop" is. It doesn't even know what YOU are, sir. But don't take it personally. It's only because it's a penguin.

As far as the Norwegian King's Guardsmen themselves, a one Captain Rune Wiik stated, "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." Now it's like some sort of peace keeping penguin. What's the next promotion? Secretary of State?

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