Get ready for one of the best soul mate stories ever. This video from 2015 that recently became viral will make you tear up like you do in one of those dog movies ("Hachi," anyone?), so grab the tissue box now.
Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, who lives on an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, found a South American Magellanic penguin soaked in oil and saved the creature's life.
Penguins and other sea animals washing up on Brazil's coast is growing more common and more worrisome. Birds that arrive covered in oil can die from being smothered by the toxic substance (when they try to clean themselves and accidentally inhale or ingest oil), or the oil will destroy the penguin's protective layer of feathers and insulation, causing the animal to freeze to death.
So when Pereira de Souza found the Magellanic penguin (who he named Dindim) on the beach in front of his house, cleaned him, fed him sardines and gave him a spot to rest for over a week, it's not surprising that Dindim would grow fond of the retired bricklayer.
What no one expected though was that Dindim would swim thousands of miles and return to Pereira de Souza every year for the last four years. Dindim would disappear for as much as four months at time but would always come back to his friend and live with him for about eight months, sometimes even a year.
"Everyone said he wouldn't return," said Pereira de Souza. "But he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February, and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me."
Apparently, Pereira de Souza is the only one Dindim feels safe with. The penguin won't let anyone else get anywhere near him.
"I have never seen anything like this before," biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who interviewed Mr Pereira de Souza for Globo TV, told The Independent. "I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well. When he sees him, he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight."
According to Falklands Conservation, penguins can live up to 25 years and stay loyal to their mates for life (although some studies do estimate a divorce rate of 17 percent for certain species—but hey, that's way better than the rate for humans).
We hope Joao and Dindim continue to live happily ever after.