Australia’s Oldest Man Knits Tiny Jumpers For Iɴᴊᴜʀᴇᴅ Penguins
When an oil spill ᴅɪsᴀsᴛᴇʀ occurred, the Phillip Island Nature Park wildlife clinic was ready, equipped to deploy hundreds of tiny wool jumpers.
No, no, no… these jumpers were not for humans, but penguins. These jumpers had been knitted by a volunteer called Alfie Date, who at 109 years old is Australias oldest man. Alfie said that he started knitting the ‘easy single-rib and double rib jumpers shortly after moving into a care home in southwest Australia. Once he found out that he had a talent for knitting, two nurses knew about the Phillip Island Nature Park and approached him to gauge his interest to knit for the penguins.
When Alfie arrived at his new home, an elderly-care village on the New South Wales Central Coast, he was immediately asked if he could put his well-known knitting skills to good use. Phillip Island’s Penguin Foundation requested the help of knitters around the world to make sweaters for penguins who had fallen ᴠɪᴄᴛɪᴍ to an oil spill. So naturally, Alfie signed up! Sweaters are vital in the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ of penguins affected by oil spills. A patch of oil the size of a thumbnail can cause their feathers separate and get matted together, allowing the cold to reach their otherwise protected skin. Penguins who are covered with oil will instinctively try and clean themselves by picking at their feathers with their beaks, this causes them to ingest oil which can ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇ their digestive system. Placing sweaters on ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇd penguins prevents them from ingesting any oil while preening and keeps them nice and warm.
Following a spill near Phillip Island, 483 little penguins ended up at the rehabilitation centre, with 96% of them ultimately being released back into the wild. At this time, the centre does not need any more penguin sweaters, but with Alfie’s help, he managed to sᴀᴠᴇ many little penguins’ lives.