Dindim: A Penguin That Swims Miles to Be Reunited With His Rescuer

The penguin with its rescuer.

A South American Magellanic penguin named Dindim makes a lengthy annual journey to see the human rescuer who once saved his life. (Image: via Penguinpromises)

Some animals will remember the people who showed them love and kindness. Dindim, a penguin, is considered to be one of them. 

To spend time with his human rescuer Joao Pereira de Souza, 71 years of age, the Magellanic penguin Dindim travels miles yearly for four years to reunite with him. 

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Dindim’s rescuer used to work as a bricklayer but is now retired and a part-time fisherman on the shore of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and that’s when the story began. Keep reading to learn more about this fantastic story and how an animal appreciates human kindness.

The story of an older man and the penguin he rescued

A South American Magellanic penguin named Dindim makes a lengthy annual journey to see the human rescuer who once saved his life. Joao Pereira de Souza, a part-time 71-year-old fisherman and island resident, rescued the penguin. He is from the little community of Barra da Tijuca, which is located around a hundred miles from Rio de Janeiro.

Joao discovered the little penguin on the rocks of a nearby beach. Oil had soaked into its feathers to the point that it nearly died and could hardly move. He rescued it, and a daily fish feed and thorough cleaning of its oily feathers helped him gain strength. Finally, he decided to call it Dindim. 

Dindim is a South American Magellanic penguin. (Image: via Wikipedia)

After a week, Joao Pereira took Dindim to the shore, where he released it on a nearby island. Yet in the afternoon that day, Joao could hear a penguin squawking outside his yard, and to his shock, he noticed it had returned. After eleven months of Joao living with the penguin, Dindim mysteriously vanished after he had a new feathered coat made. Where exactly Dindim went is a mystery.

After a few months apart, Joao Pereira heard a squawk in his yard and found Dindim waiting for him. Since then, it has happened yearly. If Dindim the penguin leaves, his whereabouts are unknown. Some have suggested that he spends all of his time breeding in the waters of the coast of Argentina and Chile. If that’s the case, Dindim covers more than a thousand miles in a single journey before returning to Joao.

Short-term memory of animals

A study at Stockholm university and Brooklyn College was a meta-analysis of approximately one hundred memory trials conducted on twenty-five distinct species. This study’s findings highlight that animal memory systems differ from humans.

To put it another way, animals have specialized memories and short-term memories. Animals cannot store information for the long term except information such as their survival skills. For instance, a crow that hoards nuts can recall the exact spot where it kept them for months, but animals have problems retaining new information for even a minute. 

Generally, specialized memories can keep knowledge for a long time. For illustration, animals can remember where they last saw a familiar face, where they found a lot of food, or whether a particular area is hazardous. But, any memory of the occurrence will be forgotten a few minutes after the triggering event has passed.

But, the case of Dindim the penguin and his capacity to remember his rescue event in 2011 contradicts the theoretical explanation of research on the short-term memory of animals.

Dindim’s case is unusual because of the distance he needs to travel and the dangers he faces. (Image: via Penguinpromises)

How was it proved to be the same penguin?

It has long been speculated that Dindim is a member of the native penguin population of a South American country. So, scientists decided to tag Dindim with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to trace his history and future movements, as CNN reported. 

As the tag remains attached to Dindim’s body, experts have established without a reasonable doubt that he is the exact penguin who visits the rescuer’s home yearly. Researchers took this as proof that penguins are loyal to their savior. Dindim’s case is unusual because of the distance he needs to travel and the dangers he faces. This includes predators and natural weather threats.

The astonishing relationship between a man and a penguin

If the natural phases and ecology of Dindim are factored in, then clearly, something is happening. Dindim, being a penguin himself, may think Joao is a close relative. Since the rescuer cared for him when he was little, it interacts with Joao like other penguins. 

Unlike his mates, Dindim prefers to remain on dry land and doesn’t bother with mating. As such, the bond between it and the person who saved him is genuine, powerful, and will last forever. Nevertheless, Dindim does not lead a typical lifestyle for a Magellanic penguin. 

It is undeniable that everyone can learn something from this story about the power of trust, gratitude, and friendship in forming bonds between species. Joao Pereira de Souza and Dindim indeed have a unique bond.

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