#1011: “Norway once knighted a penguin.”
Nils Olav is one famous penguin. Excuse us, Brig Sir Nils Olav is one noble and decorate penguin of the highest caliber. According to NBC, Nils Olav received medals for good conduct and long service, made honorary colonel-in-chief of the elite Norwegian King's Guard in 2005, and was promptly knighted in 2008. He is the 3rd of his noble lineage to be granted this honor. In 2016, he ascended to the rank of Brigadier in the King's Guard - you can even see the event here. During the video he is seen regally waddling along the path inspecting the troops. Truly he is a stickler for polish and discipline, but it seems the troops made it through with no reprimands...this time.
One thing I found interesting is how the above video occurred in Scotland. I did a little more reading and found this article by The Guardian. While all this may very well be an expensive piece of entertainment utilizing an old monarchical structure, it's also used a way to foster cooperation between nations. As Barbara Smith of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland puts it: “We are honoured to host his majesty the king of Norway’s guard as they bestow a prestigious new title upon our king penguin, Sir Nils Olav. It is a very proud moment and represents the close collaboration between our two countries.” What I had missed in my first readings was that Sir Olav does not actually reside in Norway. He is a resident King Penguin at the Edinburgh Zoo, so this is a fun spectacle that is also meant to bring the two countries together.
This realization then led me down the google rabbit hole once again as I looked for other examples of "Knighted" or well-decorated animals. I then came across this Mental Floss piece. A few of them were pretty silly historical examples that honestly just didn't catch my interest, but then I discovered Taffy IV. Taffy IV is arguably one of the most decorated goats in history. He saw active duty in WWI and received he received the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his valor in several battles during the war. Apparently, since the US Revolutionary War, Britain has regularly deployed goats on the battlefield. How much they do that today...well, perhaps that'll be a fun new piece.