When 71-year-old Joao Pereira de Souza found a starving penguin on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, he never thought such an event would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Found starving and covered in oil, Joao took the penguin back to his house, where he reanimated the poor penguin by feeding him a diet of fresh fish, and love.
After adequate time had past and the penguin had regained his strength, Joao attempted to return the little guy to the ocean.
“But he wouldn’t leave, he stayed with me for 11 months and then just after he changed his coat with new feathers he disappeared. Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me,” Pereira de Souza said in an interview with Globo TV. “He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me.”
Joao was surprised to see such a bond formed with his rescued penguin, especially as South American Magellanic penguins typically breed on the cooler coasts of Chile and the Falkland Islands.
Although the relationship initially took him by surprise, he has found happiness knowing what an effect he had on the young animal.
“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” said Pereira de Souza to Globo TV. “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.”