The story of a South American Magellanic penguin who swims an astonishing 5000 miles every year to reunite with the man who once saved his life has warmed the hearts of millions around the world.
71-year-old part-time fisherman and retired bricklayer Joao Pereira de Souza, who resides on an island village near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, found the little penguin, soaked in oil and dying on the local beach rocks back in 2011.
Joao scrubbed the oil off the creature’s feathers and fed him daily to rebuild his strength. He named him Dindim.
A week went by and Joao tried to release Dindlim back into the sea. However, he would not leave.
‘He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared,’ Joao remembers.
And just a few months later, Joao’s new best friend was back. He saw the fisherman on the beach one day and decided to follow him home. For a period of five years, Dindlim had spent eight months of the year with Joao and is thought to spend the rest of his time breeding off the coast of Chile and Argentina.
It is believed he swims up to 5000 miles every year just to reunite with his good friend and savior.
‘I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,’ Joao told Globo TV. ‘No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up.
‘Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. ‘He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me.’
Biologist Professor Krajewski, who talked to Joao for Globo TV, told The Independent:
‘I have never seen anything like this before. I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well. ‘When he sees him he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight. And, just like that, the world seems a kinder place again.
Take a peek at Joao and Didndlim’s wondrous relationship in the video below.
What are your thoughts on this extraordinary story? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments.