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Byron Shire
August 2, 2021

Can you knit jumpers for penguins?

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Felicty Gaze is using her knitting talents to help save Fairy Penguins. PIC: Tree Faerie

A Mullumbimby resident who saw something interesting in a shop counter has helped two birds with one stone.

Jack Mantle told Echonetdaily he saw a knitting pattern for penguin jumpers and suggested to his friend Felicity Gaze that she might like to get her needles out.

Ms Gaze is unable to walk and spends a lot of time in a wheelchair watching the birds who visit her yard.

‘I have more time on my hands than I used to,’ she said, ‘this is a project I can do.

‘I’m still on my first one and once I have that finished I’ll see how I go.’

Knits for Nature is a project organised by the Penguin Foundation on Phillip Island in Victoria, home of the world-famous Fairy Penguin.

But why would a penguin need a jumper?!

Oil slicks kill penguins

Oil pollution is a serious threat to little blue penguins, as Fairy Penguins are sometimes called.

When penguins are covered in oil, they try to preen and clean the toxic stuff from their feathers but ingesting it can kill them.

The oil also damages penguins’ delicate feathers, exposing their skin to often freezing temperatures.

The poor penguins are left cold, heavy and unable to swim or hunt for food.

Jumpers save penguins

Fairy Penguin rehabilitation jumpers can play an important first-response role in saving oil affected penguins.

They act as a barrier to stop the penguin reaching its oily feathers with its beak before wildlife rescue staff can wash them clean.

But the jumpers need to be knitted just right so they fit the penguins properly and are safe to use.

Start knitting now!

Ms Gaze said the thing to remember is that even though there might not be penguins right now who need coats, once there has been an oil spill, it’s too late to start knitting.

‘There’s no point rescuers just having one or two in the cupboard when it happens,’ she said, ‘they needs as many as they can possibly get.’

Are you a knitter who can help out the Phillip Island fairy penguins? Visit the Penguin Foundation for more info.

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