Patagonian Penguin Always Returns to the Human Who Saved His Life 5 Years Ago

João Pereira de Souza, a retired bricklayer from Rio de Janeiro, shares a heartwarming bond with a Magellanic penguin native to South America’s Patagonian region. For the past five years, the bird seems to have altered its natural migratory pattern just to be able to visit de Souza several times a year.

The unlikely friendship began in 2011, when de Souza found the bird, nicknamed Jinling, soaked in oil on the beach near his house. He brought the penguin home, cleaned him up, and offered him a meal of cool sardines and a shady spot to rest. Since then, Jinling has never stayed away from de Souza for too long.

Even though the kindhearted man tried to get the penguin reacquainted with the open sea after he got better, the bird just kept coming back. He even took him out in a boat, far from land and turned him loose in the ocean, but by the time he got back home, Jinling was already waiting for him.

Photo: The Wall Street Journal/Youtube

Although Magellanic penguins migrate thousands of miles each year between breeding colonies in Patagonia and feeding grounds further north, Jinling doesn’t stay away from Rio for more than four months at a time. He always waddles back to de Souza’s little chanty by the sea, sometimes spending as long as eight months to a year with the old man. And he’s possessive too – he apparently can’t stand other animals getting anywhere close to his human.

The local fishermen are bewildered by this unusual behavior. “The funniest thing is that the penguin might stay here for a week, then it walks down to the beach and leaves,” said Mario Castro, a fisherman. “It spends 10, 12, 15 days and comes back to the same house. They’re supposed to join together, find some path to the south, but he doesn’t.”


Whwn they are not swimming in the ocean together, the unlikely duo hang out with the locals from João’s village, where Jinling is known as the village mascot.

Source: The Wall Street Journal (subscription)