Penguin Swims 5,000 Miles Each Year to Visit the Man Who Rescued Him
Talk about gratitude.
How far would you swim to reunite with the person who saved your life? For one penguin who found himself in a sticky situation (literally), the answer is approximately 5,000 miles.
Have you heard about the Magellanic Penguin and retired bricklayer in Brazil who have struck up a unique friendship?
Joao Pereira de Souza lives in a fishing village just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2011 he found a tiny penguin lying on some rocks at his local beach. The creature was covered in oil and close to death.
Joao cleaned the penguin, nursed him back to health and named him Dindim. Joao tried releasing the penguin, presumably never to meet again, but Dindim wasn’t ready to leave just yet. Joao recalls, “He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared.”
But that was not the last time the two would meet. So the story goes, over the past five years, Dindim has spent many months of the year with Joao and some believe he spends the rest of the time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile.
Joao told Globo TV, “I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me.” Apparently, no one else is permitted to touch Dindim, besides Joao, of course. Dindim lets Joao give him showers, feed and pick him up.
See for yourself:
That’s quite a heartwarming story, eh?
According to Penguin World, the Magellanic Penguin is the only migratory, offshore-foraging species in its genus. Some move as far north as Peru and Brazil in winter. So a penguin hanging out at a Brazilian fishing village is not necessarily as wild and crazy as it may sound.
I wonder though; is having a human "bff" in any way a detriment to this wild penguin’s welfare?
We know that there are health and emotional benefits of human-animal interactions. But we also know that wild animals belong in the wild and when humans try to change that, tragedy happens.
Still, a recent study found that ecotourism—which some claim can be dangerous to animal species in general—“might be less harmful to larger birds than previously thought because larger animals are more likely to be able to tolerate human disturbance.” A key finding from the study: “Larger birds are more tolerant of humans than smaller birds.”
Daniel Blumstein, the study’s senior author and a member of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, explained, “This new finding flips previous recommendations about large-bodied species being more vulnerable to the presence of humans and shows that large-bodied species are more tolerant.” He added, “It is likely costly for animals to respond fearfully to people that are not harming them.”
Interesting indeed, but to get the full picture, you should read the complete study.
As for the heartwarming bond between Joao and Dindim, to further explore whether this relationship is in any way harmful to the penguin, I turned to International Bird Rescue, an organization that has pioneered oiled aquatic bird care.
There I connected with Barbara Callahan, International Bird Rescue’s Response Services Director, who had just left Brazil where she was working with their partner organization, Aiuká Consultoria em Soluções Ambientais. Callahan suggested I connect with the Projects Director of Aiuká, Valeria Ruoppolo, who has been following this case.
About the unusual human-penguin friendship, Ruoppolo told me, “There is no harm really, but that is excluding the fact that the animal is being fed while on shore and that is why it does not go away.”
Takes a bit of wind out of the friendship sail, but what do you expect? It’s hard for anyone to turn down free lunch.
In terms of where exactly the penguin goes when not with Joao, Ruoppolo believes the media thus far has gotten it wrong: “Once it decides to go, the animal clearly knows where it is going back to, but in my opinion it does not go back south to Argentina as I have seen all over the media.”
Her theory? “The penguin is generally away for four months and it probably feeds and swims around south and southeastern Brazil when it decides to go back to Mr. Joao.”
Well, you heard it here folks.
Here’s to friendship and mutual respect between humans and wildlife. To learn more about International Bird Rescue’s incredible work, click here.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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