Penguin Swims 5,000 Miles Every Year To Meet His Human Friend Who Saved His Life

Penguin Swims 5,000 Miles Every Year To Meet His Human Friend Who Saved His Life

In May 2011, Joao Pereira de Souza found the Dindim covered in oil and almost death-like state. So, he cleaned his coat and fed him every day until he recovered.

The touching story of a penguin who travels each year to meet his human friend and hero will warm the coldest of hearts. It all began when Joao Pereira de Souza, a retired bricklayer, and part-time fisherman found a tiny South American Magellanic penguin in a horrible condition in May 2011. Covered in oil, the creature lay helplessly in a near-death state in Pereira de Souza's backyard that opens up onto Proveta Beach in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Speaking to CNN, Pereira de Souza recalls the piteous state of the penguin who he christened Dindim. 


Dindim was caught in an oil spill and could barely move when he was found. Pereira de Souza decided to help the poor soul and nurse it back to its former health. The then 71-year-old began by washing off the oil from the penguin's coat. He then fed Dindim sardines to gets its strength back, and when he did, Pereira de Souza took him to a nearby island in an attempt to release the bird into the sea to find its way back home. 


After saying his goodbyes, the man returned home only to hear a squeak come from his backyard later that day. On investigating the noise, Pereira de Souza was delighted and surprised to find Dindim who had returned. Eventually, Dindim and the man's 2-year-old grandson grew attached to each other during his temporary stay. Pereira de Souza revealed that his grandson was actually the inspiration for the penguin's name. Speaking to the outlet, he stated that his grandson "could not properly pronounce the word 'pinguim,' Portuguese for penguin.'" The toddler would instead pronounce the word as "dindim." 


One day in February 2012, Dindim was nowhere to be found. He had simply disappeared and no one knew where he went. However, he returned months later. "Because penguins are usually very loyal to their pair and breeding site, where they spend the summer, they tend to come back to the same place every year," said biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who documented this story for Globo TV. It was in June when Pereira de Souza heard a loud squeak once again, and the two were reunited once again. This has been happening every year, where Dindim arrives in late June and spends time with his human friend before returning mid-February. 



When the story first came out, several untrue claims were made. It was reported that the bird traveled 5,000 miles each year to meet the man. But the truth is, no one knows where Dindim goes. Traveling back and forth to Patagonia was highly unlikely, the biologist said. "This is because Dindim stays in Ilha Grande (where Proveta Beach is located) at the same time all other Magellanic penguins are breeding in Patagonia and other islands down South," said Krajewski. "When these penguins finish breeding and molting, they migrate and spend months feeding in the sea."

Magellanic penguins are known to live off the coast of Patagonian South America, however, they can reside in the ocean for a maximum of five months at a time before heading back to the coast. Although they breed off the coast of Argentina, people have spotted them in areas as far north as Rio de Janeiro on occasions. Krajewski added further, "Professionals who work with animal rescues make the most to avoid relationships like this so they are able to reintroduce the animal into the wild. But this isolated case in Brazil certainly allowed Dindim to live and was the best this humble and kind man could do for the penguin." 


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