If the image of adorable little penguins wearing sweaters doesn’t bring a smile to your face, we’re pretty sure you didn’t look closely enough: they are tiny penguins wearing sweaters! Before you call PETA, know that these “jumpers” serve an actual, functional purpose and are not a silly fashion craze. Oil spills around Phillip Island in Australia have injured hundreds of Little Penguins, a species found only in southern Australia and New Zealand. The Penguin Foundation launched the Knits for Nature initiative to provide a gentle and effective way to keep these adorable penguins from trying to preen and ingest the toxic oil. Oil wreaks havoc on the penguin’s feathers, causing them to mat and separate and exposing the penguins to cold; the oil also causes the penguins to be less effective hunters. The “little jumpers drive” resulted in knitters from around the world taking up their needles for these cute creatures, including the oldest man in Australia. 109 year-old Alfred Date has been knitting for over 80 years, and he continues to knit for friends and beanies for premature babies. Perhaps the secret to his longevity is keeping busy and kindness to all living creatures?

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+ Penguin Foundation of Phillip Island

Image via Penguin Foundation