When Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, found a starving penguin covered in oil on the rocks of an island village just outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he knew the bird would die without help. The retired bricklayer and part-time fisherman took the bird home and cleaned his feathers of the sticky black residue for a week, feeding him a diet of fish until he was nursed back to health. Once the penguin, named Dindim was recovered, Souza released him into the sea, never expecting to see his feathered friend again. But Dindim astonishingly reappeared four months later to say hello to the man who saved him! That was four years ago, and the penguin has been visiting every year since.

The penguin travels 5,000 miles each year to pay his rescuer a visit.

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Dindum goes off to breed on the coast of Argentina and Chile, but returns after each breeding season.

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“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” de Souza told Globo TV. 

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It’s clear this kind man and bird have a very special friendship.

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Without the help of de Souza, Dindim would have surely died on those rocks four years ago, and his showing of gratitude is nothing short of remarkable. While we’re sure glad this man has a heart big enough to save this bird, it is always best to contact a professional wildlife expert if you ever come across an animal in need. Visit check out this list of animal rescue hotlines to learn more.

In-text image source: Wall Street Journal/YouTube

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