This Penguin Swims 5000 Miles Every Year to Visit the Man Who Saved His Life

March 11, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

de Souza holding Dindim the penguin
Photo credit: Screen capture from video by Wall Street Journal

“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me”

In 2011, pensioner Joao Pereira de Souza who is 71 years old discovered a dying Magellanic penguin on a beach just outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil covered in oil and close to death. The pensioner saved the penguin, taking him to his home to be looked after. It took de Souza more than a week to completely clean the sticky oil residue of the bird’s feathers. During this time, he fed the bird sardines and gave him showers, which built an extremely strong connection between the two of them. He even named the penguin, Dindim.

When the penguin was strong enough, de Souza returned him back to the sea where Dindim happily headed for the water.  Much to the man’s  surprise, Dindim returned a couple of months later to the Island where de Souza had saved him and was immediately able to recognize de Souza, even returning to the pensioner’s home with him.

SEE ALSO: Empathy Is More Common in the Animal Kingdom Than Thought

Now Dindim returns every year, spending 8 months with de Souza, and the rest the year breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile.

“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me.” de Souza stated during an interview with Globo TV.

“No one else is allowed to touch him,” de Souza continued. “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.”

Biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who interviewed Mr. de Souza for Globo TV, told the 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.”

Magellanic Penguins normally live between 20 to 25 years, and are known to be extremely loyal to their mates, staying with the same mating partner for most of their lives.

The two have certainly formed an unlikely bond!

In the video below by Wall Street Journal, they take a closer look at Dindim’s story!


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