New Zealand wants your sweaters. More specifically, tiny, penguin-sized sweaters for birds who were caught in the country’s recent oil spill. The “penguin jumpers” will not only keep the critters warm until they’re well enough to be scrubbed down, but they’ll also prevent them from ingesting the oil on their feathers while preening. (1,000 penguins have already perished in the aftermath the spill, including birds from the country’s native blue penguin population.) One Antipodean yarn store has even posted a free pattern for game to knit their bit. Knitters, start your needles in 3…2…

Update: Oct. 21, 2011
Due to the generous outpouring of handknits, a Maritime New Zealand spokesman says wildlife centers have more than enough, particularly with the warm weather they’ve been having. The penguins may not even appreciate the woolies, says one bird-keeper at Auckland Zoo. “Putting something like that on a penguin, it’s probably only going to stress it out even more than they already are,” she told Bay of Plenty Times.

“These are wild penguins, they haven’t had any interaction with humans. There’s already enough stress on a bird without trying to put a sweater on it.” There go our plans to knit mini Quidditch uniforms for every House. Rats.

[Via Grist]