Ladies and gentlemen, start your knitting, because there are penguins in dire need of sweaters.
While penguins in sweaters may be the stuff of which viral internet dreams are made, it’s time to put the awwws aside, because these sweaters may truly save the lives of the little birds.
The idea of penguins wearing sweaters may give pause to global warming activists, but the reason behind the penguins’ need for knitwear is due to a massive oil spill in New Zealand. On Oct. 5, a cargo ship ran aground there, pouring 350 tons of oil into the ocean. New Zealand’s Environment Minister Nick Smith described the oil spill as the nation’s “most significant maritime environmental disaster,” which has killed thousands of sea birds, including some of the country’s native blue penguin population.
As volunteers work to save the birds, Skeinz, a yarn store in Napier, New Zealand, posted a request and patterns for knitters to make tiny little sweaters for the birds. The so-called “penguin jumpers” are intended to keep the birds warm until they are well enough to be cleaned up, while also preventing the birds from consuming the toxic oil that is coating their feathers. The sweaters work in a manner similar to the plastic cones used to prevent dogs from licking injuries. So not only will you be making the world a cuter place, but you may also save the life of a penguin.