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Pelican ponchos and penguin sweaters make animal rescues fashionable

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

As oil spills at sea threaten bird life, hand-knitted sweaters provide hope. At Phillip Island Nature Parks’ wildlife hospital in Victoria, Australia, Little Blue Penguins caught in oil spills and other contaminants are made to wear custom-made sweaters to prevent them from preening and ingesting oil and to keep them warm until they regain their strength.

Sweaters are ideal for penguins as they can be slipped over their small flippers relatively easily. Unlike many other seabirds, penguins don’t have long wingspans.

So could these sweaters help the Brown Pelicans affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? “Maybe for pelicans, a poncho-style [sweater] could work,” suggests Tristan Brigham of the wildlife hospital, which is providing advice to Gulf wildlife rehabilitators.

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