Australia's Penguins Outfitted With Knits

Australia's Fairy penguins are all set for winter and any oil spills after 1,000 tiny woolly sweaters were specially knitted and sent, some from as far away as Japan, to the Australian island state of Tasmania.

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

And for the fashion-conscious penguin there is a wide choice of colors and designs, even a black-and-white tuxedo sweater, complete with bow tie.

Knitting Knitters Together

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust made a local appeal earlier this year for the penguin sweaters after oil spills on the 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't received it yet," Jo Castle, a spokeswoman for the Trust said on Monday.

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

Unhappily Clothed

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

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