A Brazilian widower gets adopted by a penguin. It's freaking adorable.

First a penguin washed up on a Brazilian beach covered in oil. Then he decided he didn't want to go home.

Many of us have special places in our hearts for pets. And for most of us, it's a dog or a cat that greets us when we come home or wakes us up with slobbery kisses.

There aren't a lot of people, though, who can say that their kindred animal spirit is a penguin. But João Pereira de Souza, a Brazilian widower, is one of them.


João lives in a small fishing village near the Brazilian coast, and he formed an unlikely friendship with a penguin named Jinjing.

According to the Wall Street Journal, João found his soon-to-be companion on the beach covered in oil in 2011. He scooped the little guy up and moved him to a shadier spot, where he fed him some sardines.

All images via Wall Street Journal/YouTube.

Then he took the penguin back to the beach so he could swim back to wherever he came from. There was one problem, though: Jinjing didn't really want to go back. He waddled right back out of the ocean and toward João.

"He never left me again," João said of his little penguin friend.

It's been four years now, and Jinjing does occasionally take trips "out of town." He tends to take off for a few months around February too. But he always comes back to the village and to João.

Why is this story so great? Well, first of all, because it's an adorable penguin friendship. But second, João and Jinjing's story really highlights how important it can be to have a companion — even if that companion is an animal.

Spending time with an animal pal can be therapeutic, especially for people who are lonely, anxious, or depressed.

Studies show that spending time with an animal can lower stress levels and even help people process trauma.

Plus, having an animal buddy can also help connect people to each other. Anyone who has a dog knows that it's almost impossible to take a pup for a walk without meeting at least a few people. In a study published in 2000, researchers found that simply walking a dog outside can help spark conversations with strangers.

João and Jinjing can vouch for that therapy.

When they're not swimming together in the ocean or walking on the beach, they hang out with other members of the community, where Jinjing is known as the "village mascot."

Having a pet can make you more physically healthy as well. It's hard to avoid exercise when your dog or cat wants to play every morning, after all. And one study found that having a household pet could even help control blood pressure.

So you don't need a penguin to find heartwarming companionship (and, in fact, you probably shouldn't try to get one).

But there are plenty of rescue animals in shelters that need forever homes and new best friends! You can even start the adoption process today. And if you want to live vicariously through João, you can check out this video of the two BFFs from the Wall Street Journal:

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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