Mr Joao Pereira de Souza is a retired bricklayer who lives in Provetá Beach, Ilha Grande, in the state Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro is a big seaside city in Brazil. One day, in May 2011, Joao was going about his daily work when he saw something very strange. He saw a sick looking penguin lying in his backyard. On close look, he noticed that the penguin was all covered in oil. It could barely move.
The penguin was a Magellanic penguin. Magellanic penguins are found along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern South America. They sometimes migrate to as far as Peru and Brazil. Look at the map below.
Due to non-environment friendly human habits, many penguins fall sick on their journey. Some get covered in oil from oil spill and some other unlucky ones some swallow plastic. Sick and desperate, they come to the coast looking for help.
Mr. Joao immediately cleaned the penguin. He fed it and cared for it for many days. Mr. Joao’s very was young grandson unable to say the word penguin, so he called it Dindim. Dindim got better by the day. Mr. Joao decided to release it in the sea. After all that is where it belonged! He took the penguin in a boat, went to a nearby island and released the animal.
The Penguin Returned
To Mr. Jaoao’s surprise, the same day Dindim returned! How did it reach Jaoa’s backyard? For one his backyard is connected to the Provetá beach. Its not strange for people living on the coast to have access to the beach from their homes.
Also, Penguins are usually very loyal to their partners. Since Mr. Joao rescued and fed it, it considers Mr. Joao, a friend. It is possible that Dindim has marked Joao’s home in Ilha Grande as it’s land based home.
What happened next?
Dindim stayed at his land based home until Feb 2012, for almost nine months. Then one day it went out to the sea and did not return.
Three months passed and one day in June Dindim returned again. It made several vocal calls when he saw his friend. The Magellanic Penguins produce a loud, mournful call, like that of a donkey bray. So they are hard to miss. Mr. Joao was thrilled to see his friend.
Every year since then this story repeats itself. Dindin stays with Mr. Joao for the entire part of the year and disappears for three months. Mr. Joao has now partially fenced his backyard which is where Dindim sleeps. He is concerned about street dogs attacking the penguin.
Where does Dindim disappear for few months?
No one knows where Dindim goes when it is out at the sea. When all other Magellanic penguins go to Patagonia to breed, Dindim comes to Ilha Grande to Mr. Joao.
A friend in need is a friend indeed
A chance meeting between the sick Dindim and the old man has now become a friendship of a lifetime.
To Know more about what is threatening the population of Magellanic Penguins, Click here.
Image Credit: Featured Image ‘A Magellanic Penguin on the beach’ by NASA Goddard Photo and Video, from Flickr