Knit a Sweater, Save a Penguin

The Penguin Foundation on Phillip Island in Australia collects sweater donations--for penguins. When a penguin encounters an oil spill, rescuers use the sweaters to help rehabilitate the oiled birds. Sweaters help keep the penguins warm and also prevent them from ingesting toxins.

Phillip Island in Australia is known for its population of little penguins, also sometimes called fairy penguins. The foundation's website explains that a very small amount of oil can kill a penguin, by matting and separating its feathers, hurting its ability to stay warm. After the penguins have been cleaned and are healthy, they are released back into the wild.

"It's a continuing problem," Lyn Blom, a knitter and employee at the Phillip Island Nature Parks, told ABC. "We get probably about 20 birds a year." The facility can accommodate as many as 1500 penguins in the event of a major spill.

Now, I can't in good conscience suggest that readers outside of Australia ship little sweaters half way around the world. That's not particularly eco-friendly. In fact, the foundation's website says they "do not urgently require little penguin jumpers for rehabilitation." Translation for Americans: they have enough sweaters.

However, if you are in the region, there's a handy downloadable pattern and the foundation promises that all sweaters will be put to good use. Some sweaters may be used to dress plush penguins for educational purposes.

Readers around the world can support the Penguin Foundation by making a monetary donation (not at much fun, I know). And we can all enjoy these super cute photos of penguins sporting knitwear.