In March 20, 2011, a retired Brazilian bricklayer named João Pereira de Souza discovered an oil-soaked Magellanic penguin lying on the beach by his shanty in the beach village of Provetá in Ilha Grande, Brazil.
De Souza, now 71, took pity on the penguin, so he picked it up and took it home. He cleaned up the penguin and then fed it some sardines. He later nicknamed the penguin, Jinjing.
That was the beginning of an unusual friendship that has lasted up to this day.
Best friends: João Pereira de Souza and Jinjing
Even if Jinjing does leave Ilha Grande from time to time — disappearing for days or sometimes even months to mingle with other penguins — he always returns to De Souza’s home in the remote fishing village.
When Jinjing is with De Souza, they swim together, go for long walks, and even engage in what could pass for conversation between a human and a penguin.
In a story by Paul Kiernan in The Wall Street Journal, it’s revealed that the name, Jinjing, “is a term of endearment in parts of Brazil.” In fact, the penguin is considered the village mascot in the island of 1,300 residents. Everyone there is well-versed in the tale of Jinjing.
Jinjing was lying on the shore of the beach village of Provetá.
As De Souza recalled, when he encountered Jinjing in 2011, he expected the penguin to simply swim away after it felt well enough. De Souza had taken the bird to the water’s edge to encourage it to go back to its home. He related, “He took a drink of water and then came back onto the beach. So I gave him three more sardines and that was it: He never left me again.”