February 26th, 2015 - As a not-for-profit foundation, we often find ourselves discussing serious and weighty issues like empowerment, wildlife crime, environmental responsibility, and sustainability.  But sometimes stories come across our desks that are just purely heart warming and well worth sharing. This is one of those times.

The Telegraph recently published an article on the oldest person in Australia and his penchant for knitting jumpers (or sweaters) for penguins, and not just any penguins, the little penguins of Phillip Island, which is why the story struck an extra sentimental chord with TreadRight and AAT Kings.

AAT Kings and TreadRight partnered with Phillip Island Nature Parks to aid the Australian island’s mission to care for and protect Victoria’s coastal wildlife, which includes most famously the colony of 32,000 little penguins.  

109-year-old Alfred ‘Alfie’ Date told The Telegraph that he spends his time knitting tiny jumpers for the penguins to protect them from oil spills. Knitted jumpers play an important role in saving little penguins affected by oil pollution. It doesn’t take much oil at all to endanger a little penguin’s life and as much as a patch of oil the size of a thumbnail can kill a little penguin.

When the Phillip Island Nature Parks Wildlife Clinic admits oiled penguins, the knitted jumpers help prevent them from preening and swallowing the toxic oil before they are washed of the oil by clinic staff.

According to the Penguin Foundation, the last major oil spill near Phillip Island in 2001 saw some 438 little penguins affected. Thanks to the work of the Wildlife Clinic and individuals who knitted the handy (and let’s face it, absolutely adorable) jumpers, 96% of the endangered penguins were saved.

In fact, so many people like Mr. Date have given their time and efforts to help these little penguins by knitting jumpers for them that in May of 2014 the Phillip Island’s Penguin Foundation announced that they had enough and they do not require anymore little penguin jumpers.

However, there are still ways you can help care for sick and injured little penguins on Phillip Island. For instance, you may adopt a penguin or donate to the Penguin Foundation.

Working in partnership with Phillip Island Nature Parks, TreadRight and AAT Kings have contributed to the purchase of a little penguin weighbridge that is used to monitor the health of the penguins.

And if you’d like to visit the little penguins yourself, AAT Kings offers trip options to Phillip Island.

For more information on the TreadRight and AAT Kings project partnerships, check out the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital project in concert with the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors.  The facility treats nearly 800 koalas every year, in addition to many other animals. AAT Kings and TreadRight have contributed $48,000 in order to help the hospital rehabilitate and care for injured and orphaned koalas, as well as build an eco-friendly facility to house the animals.

After all, that project has some pretty adorable stories too!


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Related Project(s): Phillip Island Nature Parks