Imagine loving someone so much that you’d swim more than 5,000 miles to see them. Dindim manages to swim that far every single year to visit his friend Joao Pereira de Souza in Brazil.
This is heartwarming, not only because of the love between the two friends, but because Dindim is actually a penguin.
Joao found Dindim covered in oil, barely alive on a beach near his home in a small island village outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He picked him up, cleaned him off and brought him to his house where he nursed him back to health. Joao named him Dindim.
After a week, he brought the penguin back to the beach and tried to release him, but Dindim refused to leave Joao. Joao, a retired fisherman and Dindim, a penguin lived together for the next 11 months. Then, Dindim disappeared.
Sadly, Joao thought he’d never see his friend again.
But just a few months later, Dindim was back. He found Joao on the beach, and followed him home. Each year, he disappears for four months to mate on the Patagonia coast of Argentina. For the other eight months, he lives with Joao. Every year, people say he won’t return, but that was five years ago, and he keeps coming back.
Joao says that each time they reunite, Dindim becomes more affectionate and seems happier to see him. He says he loves the penguin as if it were his own child. He feels certain that Dindim loves him in the same way.
Ecologist Carl Safina says that animals can and do love humans. He writes and speaks a lot about animals and their feelings. He loves to use an example of a killer whale, who led disoriented researchers on a boat through a thick fog all the way to their destination at the shore.
According to Carl, it’s obvious that animals feel love for humans. What’s less obvious is whether or not humans love animals enough to protect them. Hundreds of thousands of animals are killed by the same oil that covered Dindim when Joao found him.
Fifty percent of wildlife has disappeared in the last 40 years because of humans destroying their habitats. Scientists say we’re in a new mass extinction period. In the next two generations, they predict that we’ll lose 75 percent of the remaining species on earth.
People can debate whether animals like Dindim can truly love humans, but the real question is whether humans can love animals enough to save them.