Knit a Sweater, Save a Penguin


Pick up your needles, knitters. New Zealandís Little Blue penguins need sweaters. They are victims of the heavy fuel oil leaking from the Rena, which went aground October 5th on a reef off the North Island of New Zealand.

About 350 tons of oil have washed ashore on the pristine beaches near Tauranga. Over 1300 sea birds have already died. As of this writing, some 1,400 tons of heavy fuel oil are still on the ship. Rough seas continue to hamper the salvage efforts.

Among the victims are New Zealandís Little Blue penguins. When they come ashore covered with oil, they need sweaters immediately. When they try to clean their feathers, they ingest toxic oil. The knitted coverings keep them from preening until they can be cleaned.

So Skeinz, a yarn store in New Zealand, has put out a call to knit sweaters for the birds Australians call “fairy penguins.” The instructions are online, as well as the address for sending the penguin sweaters (called “jumpers” in the southern hemisphere). You can check out a photo of the winsome creatures in their sweaters here.

When a spill off Tasmania threatened penguins a decade ago, the call to knitters brought in 15,000 tiny sweaters. Those not needed immediately were stored in Oil Spill Response Kits around the island.

Penguin sweaters are already pouring into Skeinz.†The shop will likely find itself with a surplus, just as Tasmania did, but oil spills are a long way from becoming a thing of the past. So for now, birds are going to keep needing our efforts to salvage at least some of them from our destruction of the planetary nest we share.


Related Care2 Stories

Stricken Ship May Break Apart or Sink

Gulf Oil Spill: What It Takes to Save Oil Soaked Animals

Largest Oil Spill in 36 Years Hits Alberta


Photo from Ken and Nyetta via Flickr Creative Commons

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Borg Drone
Borg Drone1 years ago

I know people who are knitting them, my girl has them on Bookface..

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper1 years ago


Diane L.
Diane L.2 years ago

Lynn D., they don't need sweaters anymore. Have you noticed the date of this article? It's more than a year old. Situation long since addressed.

Lynn D.
Lynn D.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this with us, I really thought they didn't need the sweaters any more, will have to get the pattern and start making more!!! THANKS!

Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dan B.
Dan Brook3 years ago


YOU can protect and save innocent animals EVERY DAY by not eating them. It's YOUR choice, every meal, every day.

YOU decide whether to support torture and murder of innocent animals who think, feel, and experience fear and pain OR whether to support kindness, compassion, good health, biodiversity, and eco-sustainability.

It's up to YOU and it's as simple as that.


Tim C.
Tim C.3 years ago


Andrea A.
Andrea A.3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Amber Lilyfield
Amber Lilyfield3 years ago

I love penguins.

Amber Lilyfield
Amber Lilyfield3 years ago

Not only are the sweaters cute, but they save their lives too! Wonderful! They're so cute!