On Phillip Island, right off the Australian coast, there is a population of little penguins wearing original hand-knitted jumpers. And this is not a fashion statement!
Knitted penguin jumpers play an important role in saving little penguins affected by oil pollution. A patch of oil the size of a thumb nail can kill a little penguin. Oiled penguins often die from exposure and starvation. Oil separates and mats feathers, allowing water to get in which makes a penguin very cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food.
In response to these recurring events, the Knits for Nature programme was initiated. It aims to involve all knitter volunteers out there in the creation of jumpers that could help these little penguins survive the catastrophic effects of oil spills.
When oiled penguins are admitted to the Wildlife Clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks, a knitted jumper is placed on the penguins to prevent them from preening and swallowing the toxic oil before they are washed and the oil removed by staff. By using them, the conservation centre was able to save 96% of the 453 penguins affected by the big 2001 oil spill.
If you want to contribute to this life-changing project, here’s more info on how you can do it.