Penguins in jumpers: Volunteers make woolly garments to help birds caught in oil spills

The Australia-based Penguin Foundation said the jumpers keep them warm and prevent them from ingesting toxic oil

Heather Saul
Thursday 06 March 2014 13:04
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When penguins are caught in oil spills, their feathers become matted, making it hard for them to stay warm or hunt for food
When penguins are caught in oil spills, their feathers become matted, making it hard for them to stay warm or hunt for food

A wildlife group is calling for knitters to help little penguins in rehab recover by making woollen jumpers for them.

The Penguin Foundation said the jumpers are worn by penguins caught in oil spills, because they help keep them warm and prevent them from trying to clean the toxic oil off with their beaks.

The little penguins are also not as immune to the cold as those from the south.

Avid knitter Lyn Blom is a receptionist at the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Victoria, where The Penguin Foundation is based.

Speaking to ABC News Melbourne, she said she has knitted many jumpers over the years for recovering penguins.

Phillip Island is home to a large penguin colony, where 453 little penguins were affected by the last major oil spill in 2001.

The Foundation said the jumpers played a significant role in their recovery, and 96 per cent of the birds were saved and rehabilitated at the centre.

But Ms Blom said major oil spills are not solely responsible for penguins coming into contact with the substance.

"Fishermen might clean out a container or something while they're at sea," she explained. "It's a continuing problem - we get probably about 20 birds a year."

The Penguin Foundation also provides a jumper knitting pattern for anyone wishing to donate.

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