Loyal penguin travels thousands of miles to meet his rescuer
Retired bricklayer and part time fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, from an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, discovered the tiny penguin languishing on rocks in 2011.
The helpless creature was starving and covered in oil but Mr de Souza took him in and nursed him back to health, naming the South American Magellanic penguin Dindim.
He was astonished when, just a few months later, the penguin returned to the island where he recognised Mr de Souza and returned home with him.
Now, Dindim spends eight months of the year with Mr de Souza and spends the rest of his time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile.
The flightless bird is believed to swim around 5,000 miles everytime he returns to Mr de Souza.
‘I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,’ Mr Pereira 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.’
Mr Pereira de Souza said he fed Dindim 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 the retired builder. ‘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.’
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.’
Another expert said it appears as though Dindim recognises Mr de Souza as he would another penguin, and acts accordingly.