Tom Michell is a British professor who discovered a strange Penguin survivor of an oil disaster in Uruguay in 1976. Michell cleaned the bird and when he tried to release it to the water, the bird decided to follow him, beginning a fascinating narrative between the two. Tom Michell had been affected by his mother’s penchant for the exotic since infancy; she had three crocodiles that had to be surrendered to the proprietors of Chessington Zoo owing to their great size and danger.
This man chose to depart in 1973 to teach at an Argentine boarding school, and during the winter holidays in 1976, he travelled to Punta del Este, a peninsular city bordering Uruguay.
On his last day of vacation, he decided to go for a walk on the beach and was completely attracted by a scenario in which two penguins were pursuing a big number of sprat fish; at the time, he considered it quite interesting that there were no other penguins in sight with such an accessible feast.
The most heartbreaking aspect of the narrative was when he continued his journey along the coastline and saw a big number of deceased penguins laying in the sand; the cause of death for these penguins was an oil leak from a ship.
Michell noticed something move amongst the bodies and was astonished to realize that it was a penguin battling to survive.
He decided to assist him and wrapped him in a net before transporting him to his apartment and cleaning his oil-covered body with olive oil, soap, shampoo, detergent, and butter.
The penguin seized one of Michell’s fingers with his beak, leaving a deep and painful cut with bleeding; yet, he waited for the blood flow to stop and continued cleaning it; however, this time he closed his beak with a rubber band to avoid getting harmed again.
After a time, the hostile penguin calmed down and appeared to cooperate, but the guy didn’t know what to do with him because he had to go back to Buenos Aires the next day, so he elected to return him to the water at night after evaluating the issue.
The penguin lost its natural waterproofing due to the bath and the products used, so the man decided to cover it with butter and olive oil to resemble the greasing of his body, then decided to take it to the beach, where he discovered that the corpses of the other penguins had already been collected.
When the guy took the penguin to the water’s edge, he expected it to take flight, but it didn’t.
“Let’s go locate your buddy penguins. You can’t come with me!”
But the penguin stared at him, as if to say:
“I’m not going back! I can’t swim any more since I’ve lost my waterproofing.”
The guy chose to move him back closer to the ocean, and allegedly a wave swept him away, but as he turned around, he found the penguin out of the water, swimming in circles, and failing to reach the open sea. Michell tried again, and when it didn’t work, he decided to retreat and allow him alone to find his way to the sea, but when he looked back, the bird was running after him.
That’s when the man decided to take him to Argentina, where he planned to leave him in the Buenos Aires Zoo and pay him visits from time to time.
He carried him back to his apartment, locked him in the toilet, and then went out to dine at a restaurant. While he was eating, he chose to read a little of the novel “Juan Salvador Gaviota,” from which he obtained the name of his new penguin buddy “Juan salvador pingüino.”
When he returned to the flat, he heard Juan Savaldor Penguin flap in the shower, greeting him.
When Juan Salvador Pingüino entered the restroom, he gazed at him with joy, and that was when he understood he was now his penguin, and that anything that happened from then on they would face together.
Tom Michell chose to document his experiences in a book titled “What I Learned from My Penguin,” which was released on February 18.