While adorable, these penguin jumpers are not a fashion statement!
Oil pollution is a serious threat to little penguins. When penguins become oiled, they will try to preen and clean the toxic oil from their feathers, ingesting it can kill them. It also damages their delicate feathers which exposes their skin to cold temperatures and they are left cold, heavy and unable to swim or hunt for food.
Little penguin rehabilitation jumpers can play an important role in saving these oil affected penguins. When oiled penguins are rescued and admitted to the Phillip Island Wildlife Clinic, knitted penguin jumpers may be temporarily placed on the penguins. These act as a barrier to prevent the penguin from reaching its oily feathers with its beak before Phillip Island Nature Parks Wildlife Rescue staff are able to wash it clean. It will then spend time recuperating and recovering at the Wildlife Clinic.
These little penguin rehabilitation jumpers need to be knitted 'just right' so that they fit the penguins properly and are safe to use.
438 little penguins were affected by the last major oil spill near Phillip Island in 2001. Of those, 96% were successfully saved with the help of penguin jumpers, rehabilitated at the Wildlife Clinic and released back into the wild.
Read more about the benefits of using penguin jumpers when rehabilitating oiled little penguins here.
The Knits for Nature penguin jumper program
Knits for Nature begun after a number of oil spills near Phillip Island in the late 1990s to early 2000s. In 2014, after an ABC News story on the program was posted online, offers of help and support started to pour in from across the world and it quickly went viral! We received tens of thousands of little knits, but despite best intentions many were the wrong size, shape, or had embellishments which are unsafe for penguins and were and not suitable for little penguin rehabilitation in the event of an oil spill.
So instead, these jumpers benefit the penguins through raising funds for little penguin research and conservation at Phillip Island . These can be purchased at the Penguin Parade gift shop and are part of our Adopt a Penguin Pal kids pack. Little penguin jumpers are also used as an educational tool to teach students and others about the impact marine and coastal pollution has on wildlife and the environment.
We are pleased that a large percentage of the penguin jumpers have been suitable for rehabilitation purposes, and we therefore have ample supply for future oil spills – should one occur. Please send in any completed penguin jumpers, but please do not start anymore for the time being.
To download penguin rehabilitation jumper pattern click the above link or penguin picture.
Crafty penguin knits for fundraising
Over the past five years over $185,000 has been raised for little penguin conservation at Phillip Island through the sale of penguin jumpers that have not been suitable for penguin rehabilitation. These jumpers are sold on toys at the Penguin Parade and our Adopt a Penguin program. If you would like to contribute in this way, please feel free to post in your wildest little penguin jumper creations to help us raise further funds!
Thank you knitters!
Thank you to keen knitters and those who have contributed to the Knits for Nature program so far by donating little penguin jumpers for penguin rescue in the event of an oil spill, fundraising and education programs. Your interest, time and efforts are greatly appreciated by us and staff who work closely with these special birds.
Mr Alfred Date
The Penguin Foundation would like to specially acknowledge the late Mr Alfred Date. Mr Date was a wonderful contributor to the ‘Knits for Nature’ program, and provided us with many woollen jumpers to protect Phillip Island’s little penguins in the event of an oil spill. We feel very privileged to have played a small part in Mr Date’s celebrated and incredibly rich 110 years of life.