In 2011, retired bricklayer Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, found a South American Magellanic penguin covered in oil, starving and close to death on a beach off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joao nursed the bird back to health and named him JinJing. But he never expected his act of kindness would lead to an amazing friendship.
After a week, he tried to release the penguin back into the sea. But, the thankful bird wouldn’t leave. Then, 11 months later, shortly after he changed his coat, he suddenly vanished.
“He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared,” Joao recalls.
However, since they met in 2011, the adorable creature, which normally breeds on the Patagonia coasts of Argentina and Chile, about five thousand miles away, has become a faithful companion, swimming every year from its habitat to spend up to eight months living with the retired fisherman in his house on the island, reported by The Independent.
For the past five years, JinJing has spent eight months of the year with Joao, travelling 5,000 miles from his breeding grounds in Argentina and Chile.
“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.” Biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who interviewed Mr Pereira de Souza for Globo TV, told the paper.
“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” Joao 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.”
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H/T: The Independent, Globo TV