A Scientist Says That Story About The Penguin Who Swims Home To His Friend Was Misreported
"I am happy to see the story I presented spread all over the world, but I am also concerned by the amount of misconceptions spread."
You've probably seen the story of Dindim the penguin around. It's extremely viral.
BuzzFeed News reported on it back in February, but it randomly blew up again last week.
It's a pretty simple story.
João Pereira De Souza, a retired bricklayer, found Dindim covered in oil near where he lives: a beach near Rio de Janeiro. He picked him up and cleaned him and then put him back in the sea. However, upon being released the penguin swam back to De Souza's backyard. Now Dindim will go to sea for several months – but will always come back to visit his friend.
However, João Paulo Krajewski, a biologist who filmed the original news report, has posted on Facebook about the number of errors that have crept into the coverage in recent days since the story blew up.
He writes: "We have never said this in our story and this is extremely unlikely. We don't know where the penguin goes when it is out at the sea, but it is extremely unlikely that it travels to Patagonia, specially to the coast of Chile, after leaving Ilha Grande."
Krajewski says the penguin "stays in Ilha Grande at the same time all other Magellanic Penguins are breeding in Patagonia and other islands down south. So, it is very unlikely that Dindim breeds anywhere else, as some articles are stating."
He goes on: "Also, judging by the first photos taken when the penguin was rescued and by an evaluation by local biologists, Dindim is reaching the sexual maturity now. It is estimated to be about 6 years old."
He says Brazilian authorities had nothing to do with it.
According to Krajewsky, he never gave the above quote, which has been used in a variety of places. He writes: "The penguin is completely free. It sleeps in Mr Joao's backyard, which is connected to the beach and only partially fenced, since Joao is concerned about street dogs attacking the penguin. In fact, the penguin left to the sea some weeks ago."
He points out that Pereira de Souza is a retired bricklayer, not a fisherman as some outlets reported.
He adds: "I have never ever made any comment about religion, miracles, and things like these."
He goes on: "Many penguins are found sick in the coast of Brazil, and finding and taking care of one is pure chance. If anything created this event, it was the terrible habit of humans to trash the environment, which causes many animals to get covered in oil or swallow trash."
The thrust of the story is, however, true. He writes that penguins "may live for over 25 years and usually mate with the same individual in the same nest every year. This site and partner fidelity certainly facilitated the development of the relationship between Dindim and Mr Joao."
He adds: "I am happy to see the story I presented spread all over the world, but I am also concerned by the amount of misconceptions spread and by some articles changing my statements and putting wrong credits to the images. If anything impacted me positively so far it was the the creativity of some people who wrote the stories about Dindim. And, of course, the many good comments about Mr Joao's kindness."
He also points out the show was produced for Rede Globo de Televisão, not "Global": "All the images related to the story I presented are most likely done by me and should be also credited to Globo TV." You can watch his original story here.
BuzzFeed has contacted João Paulo Krajewski for further comment.