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.