A patch of oil the size of a thumb nail can kill a little penguin. That’s because penguins preen and swallow the toxic oil. Oil also mats feathers and allows frigid water to cool and kill the penguins.
At Phillip Island Nature Parks in Australia, Penguins that are contaminated with oil have care that includes wearing a knit jumper. During the last oil spill near Phillip Island, 96% of affected birds were saved by this method.
Climate change and oil spills have caused penguin numbers to steadily decline. They now carry the designation "Nearly Endangered" given by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Knitters can participate in saving penguins when they download the knitted penguin jumper pattern and donate the sweater/jumper. The Penguin Foundation uses the jumpers, distributes them to other wildlife rescue organizations and sells them for fundraising.