For quite some time now, penguins that have been affected by oil spills at the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Australia have been receiving knitted sweaters to help protect them. The sweaters, better known as “jumpers,” prevent the oiled penguins from attempting to groom themselves so that they don’t dangerously consume oil before the staff is able to clean them up. While it’s not a new idea or practice, the jumpers have been given more attention lately since an Australian newspaper outlet ran a story about a 96 year old woman who knit over 1,000 of them to go to the Phillip Island penguins. The woman knit the sweaters for the affected penguins through the Knits for Nature program, which began in the late 1990s for those birds affected by the oil spills at the time near the island.
Through the Penguin Foundation Facebook, the Foundation wrote a heartfelt thank you note to the public on March 6, informing them of being overwhelmed with offers of knitted sweaters and at the time “do not urgently require” them at the moment, thanks to an already steady supply. The knitted jumpers are also sent out to wildlife reserves worldwide. However, they say that anyone can donate money or materials for the continued protection of the penguins.
Peter Dann, who is the Phillip Island Nature Parks research manager, has said: “We’re amazed at the response the story has received globally and we’re enormously grateful to those who have and want to contribute to the cause.”
The parks currently have 40,000 jumpers in their possession, and according to Dann, they don’t reuse the jumpers in order to avoid the transfer of the toxic oil between the penguins.
“The donations we receive now are a bonus which helps us further fundraise and educate others,” Dann explained. “It’s humbling to think that the world’s smallest penguin is receiving so much love from around the world.”
(Photo Source: Penguin Foundation)