VICTORIA, Australia (USA TODAY) -- Knitted jumpers in colors spanning the rainbow have been saving penguins affected by oil spills for some time.
Oiled penguins admitted to the wildlife clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks in Australia receive the jumpers to prevent them from grooming themselves and swallowing oil before the staff cleans them.
But the jumpers have received an increase in attention recently, after an Australian newspaper ran a story on March 4 about a 96-year-old knitter creating more than 1,000 sweaters for the Phillip Island penguins through the "Knits for Nature" program. The ongoing program began in the late 1990s after numerous oil spills near the island.
The Penguin Foundation sent out a "thank you" note on its Facebook page on March 6, saying they were "overwhelmed with offers of little penguin jumpers" and clarifying that they "do not urgently require" them and have a good supply at the ready.
"We're amazed at the response the story has received globally and we're enormously grateful to those who have and want to contribute to the cause," said Phillip Island Nature Parks research manager Peter Dann.
There are currently 40,000 jumpers in storage. Dann said they don't reuse the jumpers to avoid oil being transferred between birds.
"The donations we receive now are a bonus which helps us further fundraise and educate others," Dann said. "It's humbling to think that the world's smallest penguin is receiving so much love from around the world."