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Penguin promoted to brigadier in Norwegian Army

A king penguin living in Scotland is quite the celebrity in Norway thanks to his rapid rise through the ranks of the Royal Norwegian Guard.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Sir Nils receives a salute.

Edinburgh Zoo

Sir Nils Olav III keeps his quarters at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, but one of his most important roles is acting as mascot to His Majesty the King of Norway's Guard.

Sir Nils is a king penguin, a type of large bird that enjoys snacking on small fish. More than 50 members of the Guard visited the zoo on Monday and promoted the water bird to the rank of brigadier.

Nils was knighted back in 2008. You might notice the "III" on the end of his name. The current Nils is the third in a line of penguins given honorary ranks in the Norwegian Army. The first Nils started off as a mascot back in 1972 and received the rank of corporal in 1982.

At this rate, Sir Nils may end up being an admiral within a couple more decades.

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Norway and the Edinburgh Zoo have been linked by penguins since 1914, when a Norwegian family gifted the zoo with its first king penguins. "Since then, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has been pioneering the science and care of penguins, and penguins have remained an iconic and integral part of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland," the zoo notes.

Nils isn't just resting on his feathered laurels. He has earned every rank. "Nils is regarded very highly among the Norwegian Guardsman and has received these honours and medals due to his outstanding service and good conduct," says the zoo.

The promotion took place during a ceremony where Sir Nils walked past a line of Guardsmen at attention. Nils wore his rank on his shoulder while inspecting his colleagues. The penguin will continue to serve in the comfy confines of his zoo home, which contains Europe's largest outdoor penguin pool.

You can follow the distinguished military career of Sir Nils through the Edinburgh Zoo's live penguin webcam.

(Via ABC)