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109-year-old Australian man knits sweaters for penguins


QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:31 PM ET

Don’t let his frail fingers fool you. Alfred “Alfie” Date, Australia’s oldest person at 109 years old and an expert knitter, was happy to answer the call when a foundation needed homemade sweaters for penguins caught in an oil spill last year.

Date told 9stories he used his 80 years of knitting know-how to make tiny sweaters for the Penguin Foundation’s effort to save hundreds of penguins.

Date knitted the miniature tops at his long-term care home near Umina Beach in New South Wales after two nurses from the centre asked him.

“The girls who used to work for me, they’ll tell you I’m a sucker. I can’t say no,” Date told the station.

“It’s a good way of getting along in life. You make friends all the time but you don’t make a fool of yourself either.”

The Penguin Foundation says on its website the tiny sweaters are not a fashion statement. It launched its Knits for Nature program after a number of oil spills over the years near Phillip Island, off Australia’s southeastern coast.

The foundation said the oil separates and mats penguins’ feathers, allowing water to seep in and make them very cold. Wildlife rehabilitation workers dress the rescued penguins in the knitted sweaters to prevent them from preening and swallowing the oil before they’re washed.

The foundation says it has lots of sweaters stockpiled from knitters around the world and doesn’t need any more at this time.

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