The penguin who travels thousands of miles every year to see the man who saved his life
João Pereira de Souza, a 71-year-old retired widower, found a Magellanic penguin from Patagonia washed up on a beach near his home in Brazil in March 2011. It was covered in oil and fighting for its life.
De Souza man cleaned the bird, fed it and nursed it back to health before trying to release it, but the penguin wouldn’t leave his side.
The bird does head out to sea for days, sometimes months, but always returns. “I never saw a critter get so attached. You can let him go wherever you want, but he’ll come right back,” de Souza said. The duo spends about eight months out of the year together, strolling on the beach and swimming. Mostly, JingJing just follows De Souza wherever he goes and is now considered the “village mascot.”
The little girl who gets gifts from crows
One eight-year-old has been receiving trinkets from an unusual source—the birds in her garden.
Seattle, Washington resident Gabi Mann feeds the crows that visit her home, and in exchange, they bring her gifts. She has built up a collection of more than 100 beads, buttons, pieces of metal, and plastic and foam trinkets—all left for her by her corvid companions.
Her strange relationship with the birds began in 2011 when, as a four-year-old, she would accidentally drop food. Crows began loitering around the house hoping to pick up the scraps she left behind. When she started going to school, Gabi began feeding them her lunch. The birds then lined up to wait for her to get off the bus at the end of the school day.
Gabi keeps all of her gifts from the crows in carefully labeled pots.
The lion that remembered the two men who saved him
In 1969, John Rendall and Ace Berg purchased a 35-pound lion cub from Harrods department store. The friends raised Christian in their London home, but within a year, he had grown too big too keep. Rendall and Berg knew they couldn’t keep him much longer, but didn’t quite know what to do with him.
Enter conservationist George Adamson. With his help, Christian was relocated to Africa where he was rehabilitated and released into the wild.
After a few years had passed, Rendall and Berg decided to visit Christian. They were told their odds of finding him were slim, and the chances of him recognizing them were even slimmer. Shortly after they arrived, however, Christian appeared outside Adamson’s camp. Watch their incredible reunion below!
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The conservationist who raised a zoo-bred gorilla as his own son
In 2014, English conservationist Damian Aspinall was filmed reuniting with a gorilla he helped raise. His organization, The Aspinall Foundation, is dedicated to breeding and returning gorillas and other animals back to the wild. He wanted to see how Kwibi, one of the gorillas he released five years prior, was doing. (Kwibi was born in a zoo in England, but was eventually released in a jungle preserve in Gabon. Since then, he has begun to raise his own family.)
The man who credits a rescue dog for saving his life
A shelter dog is being remembered for the massive impact that he made on one man’s dwindling health.
Five years ago, Eric O’Grey weighed 340 pounds, had both high blood pressure and cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes—all conditions that required medication that totaled over $1,000 a month. A nutritionist suggested he adopt a dog. Eric took a trip to the Humane Society in Silicon Valley and told staff, “I’d like an obese, middle-aged dog so that I would have something in common with him.”
That day he went home with Peety, a dog that eventually improved his health, ability to socialize and overall well-being. “We formed an inseparable bond and one that I had never really experienced with another person, animal, or anybody,” says O’Grey.
With Peety’s help, O’Grey lost nearly 140 pounds. Peety also lost about 25 pounds; his overall demeanor had changed drastically, and he became much more confident.
Peety challenged O’Grey beyond belief. “He looked at me, in every sense, as though I was the greatest person on the planet. I decided that I wanted to be the person who he thought I was.” That pushed O’Grey to complete his first marathon in the summer of 2015. Shortly after that, Peety was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.
O’Grey has since rescued another dog but credits Peety for saving his life. “I wake up every day wanting to be the best person that I can be. Peety completely transformed me. I think about it now: Who rescued whom?”
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The little girl who considers herself to be a duck’s “mom”
A lot of kids go to the park to see ducks, but 5-year-old Kylie Brown does things in reverse—she takes her duck, Snowflake, to see the park.
The duck swims around the pond and then he returns when called. Snowflake sincerely believes that Kylie is his mother, and the duck is not alone in this delusion. For whatever reason, the duck imprinted on Kylie and just has to be by her side. He goes to the beach in with her in the summer and sledding in the winter. He’s been to soccer practice, gone on sleepovers, and he even been trick-or-treating.
“I’m his mom,” Kylie says. When she was reminded that she is not really the duck’s mom, she disagrees. “Yep, I’m his mom.”
The therapy cat that brought a little girl out of her shell
When Arabella Carter-Johnson brought a therapy cat named Thula home from a local breeder, the fluffy kitten slept in 6-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw’s arms the first night. Iris, who is autistic, seemed to relax around Thula, stroking her ears and whiskers, and the cat didn’t even mind when Iris held her tail.
Thula seemed to know what Iris needed, adapting her behavior and becoming the perfect companion. If Iris became impatient in the car, Thula would sit on her lap to calm her down. If she had difficulty during the day or woke up at night, Thula would distract her until she had settled again.
Before Thula came into their lives, Carter-Johnson and her husband, Peter-Jon Halmshaw, went through a “dark time” trying to figure out the best ways to draw Iris out after her diagnosis. Iris’ form of autism was marked by irregular sleep patterns, obsessive behavior, refusing to make eye contact, avoiding playing with her parents or other children, and feeling distressed around people she didn’t know.
Not long after Thula’s arrival, Iris began to speak to her. She would say “sit, cat” and Thula would obey. Iris would follow Thula around the house, saying “more cat.” There was no pressure or judgment from Thula, unlike how Iris might feel if she was talking to another child or adult, so Iris would talk to Thula and give her instructions. In addition to helping with Iris’ speech therapy, Thula also studied Iris’ movements as she played or painted, mimicking them, and in turn, encouraging Iris to continue.
The woman who considers an alligator family
A potty-trained alligator named “Rambo” who understands sign language and can ride a quad bike, is being removed from his owner because at six-feet-long, he is now too big to stay at her home.
Mary Thorn adopted the Rambo 11 years ago. However, in March 2016, she was told by Florida Fish and Wildlife that in order to keep the 15-year-old reptile, she has to move to a property with at least 2.5 acres of open space or relinquish him to a sanctuary.
Horn said Rambo watches TV “on top of my dogs” and is so gentle “kids love him” and babies have their picture taken with him and believes if he is treated like a “normal gator” elsewhere, “he’ll be dead in weeks.”
Thorn further explained the bond she has with her pet, “He’s like my son. He’s my family.”
The boy whose best friend is a python
A Cambodian boy, Uorn Sambath, has an unlikely best friend—a python named Chomreun.
Chomreun is 16-feet long and weighs over 220 pounds. The snake slithered into the lives of the Sambath family when Uorn was only three months old. They are not at all worried about his attachment to the reptile and believe Chomreun brings good luck—however, the python eats a whopping 22 pounds of chicken per week, which has put quite a financial strain on the family. They’ve recently relinquished him to a rescue as result, but Uorn still visits his old friend regularly.
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