Mates for life: Penguin swims 5,000 miles a year to visit the man who saved his life

Posted by
Hayley Spencer

However cold and frosty it is where you are right now, we promise this lovely story will warm your heart. Here goes:

A 71-year-old Brazilian retired bricklayer and fisherman has gone viral after sharing the story of his four-year-long friendship with a penguin.

Joao Pereira de Souz saved Dindum the penguin's life after finding him washed up on the beach in Rio de Jeniro in 2011, covered in oil.

Once Dindum had recovered de Souza tried to release him back into the wild, but Dindum wasn't ready just yet. So the pair spent 11 months hanging out.

Now, even though Dindum flies the nest to breed in Argentina and Chili for four months each year, he makes sure to swim the estimated 5,000 miles back to spend the rest of his time with De Souza.

The pair are inseparable during this time and Dindum treats De Souza as family, lying on his lap, squawking with delight and wagging his tail when he sees him.

"I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me," de Souza told the NY Post.

“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."

“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.” 

During an interview for Globo TV, Biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski said: "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."

Watch the heart-warming video of the friends meeting on the beach below.