Penguin sweaters, also known as penguin jumpers, are sweaters which are knitted for penguins that have been caught in oil slicks. When an oil spill affects penguins, they are dressed in knitted sweaters to stop them preening their feathers and to keep them warm, since the spilled oil destroys their natural oils. This also prevents them from poisoning themselves by ingesting the oil. The sweaters are removed and discarded as soon as the penguins can be washed.
The project originated with the Phillip Island Nature Park oil spill of January 2000 and was successfully completed, but the knitting pattern is still available online, as subsequent oil spills continue to make it necessary. The extra sweaters are kept on behalf of the Wildlife Rescue Team for future use.
After a 2011 oil spill in New Zealand, an online plea for hand-knitted penguin sweaters again resulted in their use to rehabilitate oil-soaked birds. Similar garments are being made for battery chicken rehabilitation.
As of 2014, the Australia-based Penguin Foundation is still accepting handmade sweaters but no longer uses these for penguin rehabilitation. Instead, these sweaters are used to dress toy penguins which are then sold to raise money for the foundation.
In the aftermath of the 2011 ship Rena oil spill in New Zealand, a local yarn shop put out the call for penguin jumpers, and supplied a pattern. Jumpers were received from all over the world. However, those cleaning and rehabilitating the penguins affected, said the jumpers are not needed. Heat lamps are used to keep cleaned penguins amply warm. Once they are cleaned there is little danger of them ingesting oil when preening, one of the other reasons given for putting sweaters on penguins.
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- Hartman, Holly. "Penguin sweaters: Cozy tops give small birds a chance". Retrieved 2008-04-25.
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- Tasmanian Conservation Trust. "Penguin Conservation in Tasmania". Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- International Business Times Staff Reporter (20 October 2011). "Penguin Sweaters Help Those Affected by Oil Spills". Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- Buscke (17 October 2011). "The Yarn Kitchen: We have Critical Mass". Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- BBC video
- "Found Items: Pierre the Penguin's Wetsuit". Dabbler.ca. 28 April 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Coffey, Laura T. "A good yarn: Knitters make sweaters for penguins after oil spill" (MSNBC article). Retrieved 2011-10-20.
- Leslie, Robert. "In from the cold: chilly chickens given a winter warmer" (BBC article with video links). Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- "Penguin Foundation: Wildlife Rehabilitation". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- Mooney, Mary. "Penguin Sweaters: separating fact from fiction". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- "The Great Penguin Sweater Fiasco". Retrieved 2015-08-09.