Rio de Janeiro resident Joao Pereira de Souza did not expect to make a lifelong friend when he rescued a struggling, oil-slicked penguin from the beach years ago – but that’s exactly what happened. Now Dindim swims thousands of miles to spend eight months out of the year with his buddy, renewing everyone’s faith in the deep connection we share with animals.

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In 2011 Pereira de Souza discovered a South American Magellanic penguin on the beach near his home. The bird was covered in oil and the kind man nursed him back to health over a period of a week, which eventually blossomed into an eleven month-long friendship. Dindim eventually left, but he returned the next June – a ritual he keeps to this day.

“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” Pereira de Souza told Globo TV in an interview. The bird is so attached to the 71 year old that he will not allow anyone else nuzzle or touch him. Those who have seen the pair say Dindim will honk and wag his tail when he sees his friend.

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South American Magellanic penguins do not usually make a habit of washing up on Brazilian shores, and some believe climate change may be to blame for the change in their patterns. They will regularly travel thousands of miles for food and breeding, yet there has been a surge in marine animals ending up on Brazilian beaches. In the midst of the bleak realities of global warming, however, this story can shine on as an example of true friendship.

Via Independent