71-year-old Joao Pereira de Souza found a Magellanic penguin covered in oil on an island off of Rio de Janeiro four years ago. The penguin was starving and Joao took it into his care. Magellanic penguins are migratory birds. They travel between three and five thousand miles every year between their breeding feeding grounds.
Since ‘Dindim’ was rescued by Joao in 2011, he returns every year to be with him, and their unlikely love story has gone viral internationally this week thanks to a report on Globo TV.
“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” said Mr Pereira de Souza in an interview with Globo TV, in which the bird honks with delight as he recognises his human friend. “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,” said Mr Pereira who has named the penguin Dindim..
Mr Pereira de Souza believes Dindim formed a bond with him after he found it stranded on the beach and took him home. Over a week he cleaned the creature’s tarred feathers in the shower, fed him a daily diet of fish to improve his strength then took him back to the sea to let him go.
“But he wouldn’t leave, he stayed with me for 11 months and then just after he changed his coat with new feathers he disappeared,” recalled Mr Pereira de Souza. “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.”
Here’s the Globo TV report:
Biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who interviewed Mr Pereira de Souza 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 here’s a report on them posted last October by the Wall Street Journal: