Penguin Loves Rescuer So Much, He Swims 5,000 Miles Yearly Just To Be With Him

Remember that song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers? If you do, you know you’re already singing the 1988 hit’s signature lines about walking five hundred miles to be with the one you love. For those who don’t know the song, check out the tune. You’ll like it.

And the song may just be one Jinjing the South American Magellanic Penguin enjoys too. But instead of walking 500 miles twice, this clever bird would swim 5,000 miles just to be the bird who falls down at your door if you’re the man who rescued him from near death. And as a thankful penguin like Jinjing, you’ll carry that tune with you when you make that swim year after year!


Rescue Leads to The Best Friendship

National Geographic teaches us that Magellanic penguins make their homes on the lower tail of South America, mainly on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands. The birds earned their name when Ferdinand Magellan discovered them as he sailed around the continent’s tip in the sixteenth century. These cute tuxedo-clad birds mate for life and return yearly to the same spot they hatched.


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And Jinjing is no exception. But as a tiny penguin swimming the long coastline of South America, Jinjing found himself far from his hatching ground and in trouble near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Covered in oil and barely able to move, Jinjing lay dying on the rocks of a beach frequented by 73-year-old fisherman João Pereira de Souza.


João brought Jinjing home, cleaned away the oil, and fed him a steady diet of fish to help the penguin regain his strength. After a week of rehab, João released the penguin on a nearby island where he could take up the sea life again. But as a Wonder World video highlighting João and Jinjing’s unique friendship revealed, “Later that day, João heard squawking in his backyard, and much to his surprise, he saw the penguin had returned and was calling out for him.”

Jinjing stayed with João eleven months, but when his new big bird feathers came in, he felt the call of instinct and swam away.


Return Trip

Months passed, leaving João with only memories of his best birdie buddy. But one day, João heard a familiar squawk in the yard and was delighted to find the penguin had returned. And the reunions have continued every year, with Jinjing swimming off to the breeding grounds somewhere in the southern portion of the continent in February and returning to João in June.

That means Jinjing makes a five thousand-mile round trip every year to be with his best friend, João.

“Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me every year,” said João.

And João is so thankful for all the swimming his penguin does.

“I love this penguin like it’s my own child, and I believe the penguin loves me.”


“No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks him if they do.”

The feisty bird enjoys hanging out in João’s lap for snuggles and being fed sardines. Jinjing also loves good a good shower too!


“Every year he becomes more affectionate, as he appears even happier to see me.”

So as The Proclaimers and Jinjing the penguin prove, if you’re ready to walk 500 miles or swim 5,000 miles for someone, that’s a love that lasts!

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Feature Image: Wonder World/YouTube

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