In 2011, 71-year-old João Pereira de Souza was strolling along the beach on his island village in Brazil when he came across a South American Magellanic penguin that was in distress. The tiny bird was lying on the rock and covered in oil, struggling to survive. Joao took the penguin home with him, carefully cleaned the oil off of him, and fed him a diet of sardines to bring him back to health. João named his new friend Jingjing.
Once the penguin was nursed back to health, João was ready to send him back to his home. But Jingjing wasn’t quite ready to go yet. Instead of swimming off into the ocean, the penguin stayed with João for another 11 months. He stayed until his coat changed and he grew new feathers, then he swam off.
To João’s surprise, a few months later his penguin friend resurfaced on the beach. Once Jingjing spotted João, he followed him back to his home. This has now become their yearly ritual. Every year the penguin will spend eight months with the widower who saved his life, then it is believed he spends the rest of his time off the coast of Argentina or Chile breeding. That is a 5,000 mile trip that the penguin makes every year to spend with his friend.
During their months together, locals have become used to seeing João and Jingjing walking the beach together or taking a dip in the ocean. The penguin has become like a child to the retired widower.