Regular readers of the TODAY have come to expect that the editorial staff’s annual houseboat trip to California is a sure sign that there is another penguin joke in the offing. Replacing our regular ‘this week’s top five’ selection with humorous tales about everyone’s favorite flightless birds (take that, ostriches!) has been a proud tradition ever since assistant editor Quinn and I took the helm here back in 2013.
But it appears that change is to be forced upon us due to one simple and rather sobering fact. Despite literally minutes spent scouring the internet, I was unable to find a single, new penguin joke that is suitable for publication in a family newspaper. For folks interested in the ones we can’t print, look out for me in the grocery store line and I’ll give you something to make you blush.
So instead, let me regale you with a tale that might explain this publisher’s fondness for our waddling Antarctic kin.
As a young boy, on a trip from the backwater of Aberdeen, Scotland, to the grand metropolis of Edinburgh, I had the great pleasure of witnessing something of a great escape during the penguin parade at Edinburgh Zoo. The sight of flustered zookeepers trying to chase down a surprisingly speedy gaggle of adolescent penguins was impossibly funny to my eight-year-old self and still fills me with joy to this day.
But not all the penguins at Edinburgh Zoo are so flighty; some carry with them a great sense of gravitas. I speak, of course, of Nils Olav, a king penguin who so impressed members of the Norwegian King’s Guard during their 1961 visit to Edinburgh that he was adopted into the unit at the rank of lance corporal. Olav was promoted every time the King’s Guard returned to Scotland’s capital for their performances in the famous Edinburgh Tattoo, resulting in him attaining the lofty rank of colonel-in-chief by 2005. Three years later, he was awarded a knighthood.
Some people might tell you that there’s no way a single penguin could live that long and that Nils Olav is in fact several different penguins, each taking up where the last left off. But that would be ridiculous.