This FAQ was written by Sarah Bradberry on May 24th 2001 and will be updated as need arises.
Last updated August 10th, 2019
You can view this FAQ on Sarah Bradberry’s website at
Questions covered in this FAQ
- What are penguin sweaters for?
- Are there still oil spills in Australia?
- Are Penguin sweaters needed any more?
- Why are penguin sweaters collected at Phillip Island?
- Why are penguin sweaters collected by Skeinz yarn store in New Zealand?
- Why are penguin sweaters collected in Tasmania?
- Where can I get a pattern?
- Where should I send the sweaters I have made?
- Where can I purchase a Little Penguin toy wearing a sweater?
- Where can I go to keep updated about this information?
1: What are penguin sweaters for?
When an oil spill affects penguins they are dressed in little knitted sweaters to stop themselves preening their feathers. This prevents them poisoning themselves by ingesting the oil. The sweaters are removed and discarded as soon as the penguins can be washed. Some organisations also use the sweaters on penguins while their natural oils replenish themselves.
Excess sweaters, or those made out of inappropriate yarn are also used to raise money for various penguin related programs and for educational purposes. Some organisations only collect penguin sweaters for resale to raise funds for penguin related organisations.
Please note: There is a lot of debate among international bird experts as to whether these jumpers are the best way to handle birds in this situation. Since it is my intention to provide accurate and up to date information I am providing the links below so you may make up your own mind. Co-director of the penguin foundation and research manager, Dr Peter Dann has stated they do use the jumpers to stop birds preening themselves before cleaning and whilst other bird and wildlife specialists may disagree, the penguin foundation has had great success with this technique.
- Lay down your needles, knitters: penguins are covered for time being. The Guardian, March 11th 2014
- The Great Penguin Sweater Fiasco from Giant Flightless Birds blog
- Sweaters on Oiled Penguins? from the International Bird Rescue website
2: Are there still oil spills in Australia?
No. Oil spills are very rare in penguin populated areas. However, there are a small number of penguins affected by oil each year.
3: Are penguin sweaters needed any more?
In a word, yes. But not because there have been any oil spills! (See questions 4, 5 and 6)
4: Why are penguin sweaters collected at Phillip Island?
The Philip Island Penguin Parade organisation collect penguin sweaters to be used on penguins, or sold in their gift shop (they even put them on cute Little Penguin toys). The funds are then used for research and conservation projects. (See question 8 for details of where to buy one).
Note: As of August 2019, The Penguin Foundation at Phillip Island are once again collecting penguin sweaters to keep in case of need. However, they are asking that only sweaters made to their specific pattern be donated as they need ones that can be specifically used for penguin rehabilitation, rather than ones to sell in their store.
Source: “What’s New?” page on the Penguin Foundation’s official website
5: Why are penguin sweaters collected by Skeinz yarn store?
Skeinz sell penguin jumpers (sweaters) alone and on toys to raise money for various penguin related charities as part of the Skeinz penguin rescue fund. Vvisit their blog for the latest information.
6: Why are penguin sweaters collected in Tasmania?
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust no longer collects penguin sweaters.
7: Where can I get a pattern?
Skeinz yarn store have knit and crochet patterns available.
Note: Australian/NZ 4 ply yarn is fingering weight. While Australian/NZ 8 ply yarn is double-knit weight.
The Phillip Island Penguin Foundation also have a penguin sweater pattern available to download.
You can find a conversion table for needle sizes at https://www.knitting-and.com/crafts-and-needlework/knitting/tips/miscellaneous-knitting-tips/convert/
8: Where should I send the sweaters I have made?
Send your finished jumpers/sweaters to Skeinz yarn store at:
PO Box 3123,
Onekawa, Napier 4142
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust are no longer collecting jumpers/sweaters. To find out about their new penguin conservation projects you can visit their website at: http://www.tasconservation.org.au/
9: Where can I purchase a Little Penguin wearing a sweater?
You can purchase a toy on-line at the Philip Island Penguin Parade Gift Shop https://penguins.org.au/store/product/24
or at Skeinz yarn store https://www.skeinz.com/shop/View+by+Range+Name/penguin.html
10: Where can I go to keep updated about this information?
The Philip Island Penguin Parade information page can be viewed at https://penguinfoundation.org.au/about-us/wildlife-rehabilitation/
They also have a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PenguinFoundation
Visit the Skeinz yarn store blog for updated information on their latest projects and requests.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust also has a website at http://www.tasconservation.org.au/
This FAQ is copyright Sarah Bradberry, May 2001 and is updated regularly. This FAQ may be copied and shared freely as long as all information remains exactly as it appears in the original, including this copyright notice. It may also be published in guild newsletters and distributed as a “handout” at guild meetings as long as all information is exactly the same as the original. Please link to the FAQ at
rather than posting it on websites other than those listed at the beginning of the document.