The Animal Rescue Craft Guild organized the worldwide effort. If you know how to knit, crochet, or sew, you can join in.

By Kelly Vaughan
January 08, 2020

To help the animals that have been affected by the Australian wildfires, tens of thousands of crafters from all across the world have been knitting protective gear for native wildlife, the Huffington Post reports. The Animal Rescue Craft Guild, which has nearly 150,000 members on Facebook, is a community of crafters that creates handmade blankets, mittens, pouches, and other forms of shelter for animals affected by crises. Since many young marsupials, including possums, koalas, and wombats, have been separated from their mothers, these animals are now relying on hand-sewn or knit pouches for recovery. Rescuers say mittens have also helped to protect and heal the burnt paws of koalas.

Close up on woman's hands knitting
Credit: LukaTDB / Getty

Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimate that half a billion animals have been affected by the wildfires and millions are dead, and these numbers don't includ insects and frogs. In December, federal environmental minister Sussan Ley said that nearly a third of the koalas' habitat in New South Wales has been destroyed, an estimate that has likely grown.

The Rescue Collective, a Queensland-based animal rescue mission, partnered with The Animal Rescue Craft Guild to distribute the handmade materials to animal care centers across Australia. Crafters all across the globe, including those in the United States, Germany, and China, have shared photos and patterns on Facebook for other users to use as inspiration.

"Australia has a lot of iconic and lovable animals," Rachel Sharples, a volunteer rescuer, told The Guardian. "I think that for people to physically be able to create something, to physically create an item they know an animal will use, resonates with people more so than a cash donation and that is why we have set that up as an option or a way to help."

Comments (3)

January 14, 2020
Cash donations are what is needed now! The agencies have been inundated with crafts and Australia has lots of knitters of its own. The agencies and the post office are now calling a halt.
January 14, 2020
Dr Rachael Tarlinton, an associate professor in veterinary cellular microbiology, grew up in Cobargo, in the Bega Valley, one of the regions being affected by wildfires. She told the PA news agency: “I have been in touch with vets over in the region, and they are desperate for people to stop sending these items. In some instances, they have literally tons of crates arriving with goods and they don’t have the time or the volunteers to sort through them. “They don’t want to appear ungrateful, and the gesture is well-meaning, but people need to stop sending these items. They don’t have time to deal with this. “Some of these items can be useful during normal times, however, the amount being sent over in the wake of this disaster is just too much for these organisations — especially for some of these smaller ones.” Knitted mittens for koalas, in particular, are unable to be properly sterilised in an autoclave because the wool just melts in the process. Because of this, they cannot be used, particularly on injured animals with open wounds. This means the handmade items face being immediately thrown away. Dr Tarlinton said: “The other problem with koala mittens is they still need their claws and paws to be able to feed themselves and climb trees.” She suggested groups knit teddies or koalas, and sell them to raise funds for wildlife charities.
January 9, 2020
If anyone does machine embroidery I created a tiny XXS pouch according to the specifications that the rescue groups provided. It has completely enclosed seams and detailed instructions for making all the layers just like they need. You can get the pouch set free at my website to assist you in making more pouches quickly!