The smallest breed of penguins, often known as "fairy" penguins, tend to get caught in oil spills off the coast of Australia, which can destroy their natural oils or even kill them. Doll size, tight-fitting wool sweaters can keep the penguins warm during the rehabilitation process, and "stop them preening and ingesting the poisonous oil," according to The Sydney Morning Herald,
The sweaters improve penguin survival rate to about 98 percent, the paper reported.
Hearing about the penguins' plight, Jenny Allen and Marion Braun, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the coastal town of Coffs Harbour, organized a campaign to bring together Australian and New Zealand women aged 50 to 80 to knit sweaters for the foot-high penguins.
With the help of Pet Porpoise Pool, an oceanarium in New South Wales, the group was able to rally over 300 knitters and produce 1,800 doll-size sweaters, said a press release from the LDS Church.
Tourists flock to see these tiny penguins as they "parade" nightly from sea to shore at the Phillip Island Nature Reserve in Victoria, Australia. The knitters have produced so many colorful sweaters that some are now being sold in the reserve's gift shop on toy penguins, the release said. The money that has been raised has allowed the reserve to build a rehabilitation pool.