Thursday, October 20, 2011
When penguins come into contact with oil spill, their natural insulation is damaged so they cannot stay warm and waterproof. It was discovered that keeping them in little sweaters during the cleaning process helps keep them well until they can heal. As penguins are natural preeners, the sweaters also help actually save their lives by keeping them from ingesting the poisonous oil.
A Tasmanian (Australia) oil spill in 2000 started the penguin sweater therapy. An appeal was made then hoping to drum up 100 or so sweaters. Knitters all over the world ended up sending over 15,000 tiny sweaters for the smallest penguin in the penguin family, the Fairy Penguins. The surplus sweaters did not go to waste. Organizers used them to dress stuffed doll penguins that were sold to help fund penguin rescue and research programs.
The New Zealand penguins are a bit larger, so best to use the pattern supplied by Skeinz if you are interested in donating a few handmade penguin sweaters. They need to be 100% wool. After cleaning, the sweaters are put back on the penguins before they are released into a salt water pool. In about the same time as the penguins take to get their natural oil/insulation healed, the sweaters disintegrate. Perfect timing for release back to the wild.
Skeinz also has posted the address for sending the completed sweaters. If you make any, please post a link to the photos.