Australia's Penguins Outfitted With Knits

ByABC News

S Y D N E Y, Australia, May 23, 2001 -- Australia's Fairy penguins are all set for winter and any oil spills after 1,000 tiny woollysweaters were specially knitted and sent, some from as far awayas Japan, to the Australian island state of Tasmania.

The jumpers, which cover the 15-inch-tallpenguins from neck to ankle, stop oil-coated penguins preeningthemselves and ingesting poisonous oil.

And for the fashion-conscious penguin there is a widechoice of colors and designs, even a black-and-white tuxedosweater, complete with bow tie.

Knitting Knitters Together

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust made a local appealearlier this year for the penguin sweaters after oil spills onthe coast of Tasmania, not realizing they would be inundated.

"They have come from everywhere, even as far away as Japan. Someone in New York asked for a pattern, but we haven'treceived it yet," Jo Castle, a spokeswoman for the Trust saidon Monday.

The sweater pattern is based on one used for seabirds in thenorthern hemisphere, only smaller. "It was redesigned for thelittle penguins in the southern hemisphere," said Castle.

Unhappily Clothed

"They [the penguins] are not very happy about them, butthey cover them from neck to ankle which stops them preeningthemselves and ingesting poisonous oil," she said.

Castle said knitters, many old ladies in nursing homes,made sweaters in their favorite football team colors, usedscraps of wool to make patchwork jumpers, and some knittedwoolly tuxedos in keeping with a penguin's natural style.

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