A 71-year-old retired bricklayer and part-time fisherman has become an unlikely hero for Dindim, the penguin, and the pair reunite every year at the same spot to celebrate the man saving his life.
Joao Pereira de Souza’s backyard opens up to the ocean, and after a 2011 oil spill, he found the penguin near death lying on the rocks. The Magellanic penguin could barely move after sustaining his injuries. Pereira de Souza decided to take matters into his own hands and washed off the little guy and fed him a steady diet of fish for the next few days while he regained his strength.
Once Pereira de Souza thought the penguin was strong enough, he released him into the ocean, and thought he would never see him again. But much to his surprise, the penguin had returned to his backyard just hours later. It was then that the penguin was named Dindim. This was due to the fact that Pereira de Souza’s grandson, who was 2 years old at the time, had trouble pronouncing the Portuguese word for penguin, which is ‘pinguim.’ Since it sounded like Dindim to Pereira de Souza, he named his new pet after the toddler’s babbles. According to Pereira de Souza, Dindim stayed in his backyard for 11 months. But then February one day his feathers regrew and he was off. Although he was sad for his departure after all the time the pair spent together, he never expected to see Dindim again.
Amazingly Pereira de Souza then heard the familiar sound of Dindim’s voice that June, which researchers say is similar to that of a donkey. He rushed out to find his penguin friend coming ashore flapping his fins excitedly. Pereira de Souza was astonished at the sight of his long lost friend. Pereira de Souza welcomed him in and fed him a delicious meal of sardines. Again, he stayed with his human until mid-February, and then left again, repeating this pattern each year.
“Because penguins are usually very loyal to their pair and breeding site, where they spend the summer, they tend to come back to the same place every year,” said Jao Paulo Krajewski who first broke the story. The former bricklayer and Dindim share a special bond.
“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,” Pereira de Souza stated. It is thought that Dindim spends the rest of his time breeding off the coast of Argentina or Chile, but no one knows for sure.
What they do know for sure is that the pair have a special, irreplaceable bond that no one can break.