School students knit tiny woolly jumpers for Australian penguins
Archant © 2014
Pupils at a Dereham school are knitting tiny woolly jumpers for Australian penguins whose feathers have been damaged by oil slicks.
An ongoing appeal by the wildlife clinic at Phillip Island Nature Park on the southern coast of Victoria has encouraged people across the world to help seabirds affected by pollution.
The oil separates and mats the penguins’ feathers, allowing water to get in, making them cold and less able to hunt for food – as a result, they can die of exposure and starvation.
So the youngsters at Neatherd High School have knitted about 20 tiny jumpers which can prevent oil-affected birds from preening and swallowing the toxic oil before they can be washed by specialist staff.
The charitable project has been carried out by pupils in the school’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) unit called The Link.
The Link is managed by Fiona Parker, who has written to Virgin and Qantas airlines to ask if they may be able fly the jumpers Down Under for free when they are all finished.
“The penguins have been damaged by oil slicks and their feathers don’t work, so they wear these jumpers until it is safe to clean them,” she said. “That is what the project is all about, and clearly it has got an appeal for the children – it also helps with their fine motor skills, and they have taken to it like a duck to water.”