In 2011, a 71-Year-Old man made a surprising discovery when he was walking on a beach. Thousands of miles away from their normal habitat, a small penguin was found. He was covered in oil and starving to death when he was discovered, but luckily Joao Pereira de Souza wasn't about to let him die.
This species of penguin normally breeds on the coasts of Argentina or Chile, but when he turned up nearly 5000 miles away in Rio de Janeiro, they knew the South American Magellinic penguin must have gotten very lost. This lost little penguin was lucky that he was found, because now he has a new best friend.
Pereira de Souza helped rehabilitate the penguin to make sure he was okay. He named him Dindim and would clean his tarred feathers in the shower and feed him fish to help him get stronger.
When he went to release him back in the wild, it wasn't going as expected. "He wouldn’t leave, he stayed with me for 11 months," Pereira de Souza said. "just after he changed his coat with new feathers he disappeared."
It was hard to let him go, but Pereira de Souza knew he did the right thing. He wasn't sure if he would ever see him again, but several months later he saw a familiar little figure coming to his door...
“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,” Pereira de Souza said.
“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” he said. Explaining just how adorable their bond is, he said, "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."
Biologist, Joao Paulo Krajewski, looked into the unusual case, saying that, "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."
Penguins are known for their loyalty to their mates, but this devotion is something special. It is illegal to house wild animals in Brazil, but because of the special situation Dindim is allowed to stay.
“I’m flattered Dindim is happy to exchange his home with thousands of other penguins every year to find his way here to spend one-to-one time with me,” said Mr Pereira de Souza. “It’s a very special relationship.”