We suppose once you get past a certain age, there isn’t much left to do but knit for penguins.
Alfred “Alfie” Date, Australia’s oldest man at 109-years-old, fell into his enduring habit of knitting sweaters for use by little penguins native to the continent, mostly because he just doesn’t like to say no.
According to Mashable, Victoria’s Phillip Island Penguin Foundation asked for help making sweaters for the little penguins affected by a 2013 oil spill in Southern Australia’s Phillip Island.
Two nurses at the New South Wales retirement home where Date lives approached with a request to help since they knew he had a knack for knitting. Date used his self-taught skills developed since the 1930s to help the effort, which the Penguin Foundation insists isn’t a fashion statement but a way to ensure the penguins’ survival in the event of another oil spill.
Oil can make their feathers stick together, allowing water to get to their inner layers. This causes the little penguins to get cold and not be able to hunt due to heaviness.
When oiled penguins arrive at the foundation, they are given a jacket to wear so that they don’t consume the toxins or preen their feathers. In 2001, 438 penguins were affected in an oil spill at Phillip Island and by using the knitted outfits, 96% of the penguins were rehabilitated at the clinic, according to the foundation’s website.
The penguin sweaters have proven to be a good way to keep Alfie’s aging hands busy. The 109-year-old, who’s old enough to remember the news of the Titanic sinking, credits his long life to simply “waking up every morning.”
Read more about the Victoria’s Phillip Island Penguin Foundation here.