Penguin Swims 5,000 Miles Every Year to Reunite With the Human Who Saved Its Life


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Source: Rio de Janeiro Federal University

Source: Rio de Janeiro Federal University

In 2011, a retired bricklayer never expected to make an unlikely friend.

Joao Pereia de Souza, 71, lives in a small island village right outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One day, Pereia de Souza found a little penguin lying on the rocks of his local beach. The penguin was covered in oil and close to death.


Pereia de Souza cleaned off the tiny creature and nursed him back to health. He even gave the little guy a name, Dindim.

Once Dindim was healthy enough, Pereia de Souza tried multiple times to release him back into the wild, but he refused.

“He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared,” Pereia de Souza shared with Metro.

A few months after he left, Pereia de Souza spotted Dindim on the beach where the penguin followed Pereia de Souza home. Since then, Dindim seems to come and go for the past five years.

Dindim spends about eight months of the year with Pereia de Souza and is believed to spend the rest of his time traveling 5,000 miles to a breeding ground off the coast of Argentina and Chile.

Source: Globo TV

Source: Globo TV

“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” Pereia de Souza 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.”

Pereia de Souza and Dindim have formed a very close and unusual bond.

“Everyone said he wouldn’t return, but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years,” Pereia de Souza shared. “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.”

Biology Professor Krajewski told The Independent during his interview for Globo TV that he has “never seen anything like this.”

“I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well,” shared Krajewski. “When he sees him he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight.”

See more of Pereia de Souza and Dindim’s heartwarming story below.


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