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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 10:30 GMT
Woolly jumpers for oiled penguins
Evelyn Nichols, Jen Evans and Miriam Whittington (Pic Sunderland Echo)
The women have knitted 50 penguin pullovers
A group of knitting grandmothers are doing their bit to help endangered penguins p-p-p pick up a pullover.

The group, from Seaham, County Durham, hope the tiny garments will help to save the lives of stricken penguins.

Miriam Whittington, with friends Jen Evans and Evelyn Nichols, have spent weeks knitting the woollen jumpers for endangered Australian fairy penguins.

The birds are at risk from oil slicks and the garments protect them from the cold as they re-oil their feathers.

Between them Mrs Whittington, 79, Mrs Evans, 84, Mrs Nichols, 76, who are all members of the St Helen's Church Group, have created almost 50 jumpers which will be sent to the Penguin Rescue Fund in Hampstead and then on to Tasmania.

'Good cause'

Mrs Whittington said she was made aware of the birds' plight by a young relative of one of her friends.

She said: "It has been great fun and it's all for a good cause so we were happy to help."

They used a special knitting pattern provided by the Tasmania Conservation Trust, which means the jumpers will be a perfect fit.

The jumpers are only 15.5 in (40cm) high to fit the tiny birds - also known as little blue penguins.

The penguins, which are indigenous to Australia, live on a small set of islands near a shipping route and are often hit by oil slicks.

In addition to keeping the penguins warm the jumpers stop the birds preening themselves and swallowing the toxic oil, before their feathers get washed.

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10 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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