Today on Earth Day Epic Pictures Group announced that they have secured the life rights to the viral sensational story of Joao Pereira de Souza and the penguin named JinJin who travels 5,000 miles each year to be with the man who saved his life after an oil spill.
Heated competition from a number of international production companies took place after video of the unusual story quickly racked up millions of online views and sparked news stories from online and mainstream consumer outlets alike. The announcement was made today by Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson, Epic’s CEO and Co-Founder.
“We were so incredibly moved by Joao’s beautiful story that poignantly connects man with the natural world around us, we just had to be a part of it,” commented Ewald. “This story of one man’s good deed to rescue a penguin from certain death by a man-made oil slick has struck a chord internationally and we hope to bring this amazing story to even more audiences while helping Joao realize his dream,” concluded Berenson.
In 2011, Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, a retired bricklayer from an island off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, found the endangered bird in distress— covered in oil and floundering on the beach. He rescued the South American Magellanic penguin, spent a week cleaning his sticky feathers, nursed him to back health and named him JinJin, before setting him free in the wild.
But several months later, de Souza was shocked to see that JinJin had returned to the island. Even more shocking, the penguin seemed to recognize his savior and waddled home with de Souza. The penguin now spends eight months a year with de Souza and the rest of the time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile — swimming about 5,000 miles in the process. The penguin arrives in June and leaves to go home in February.
Paula Moreno, Epic’s Director of US Distribution, first heard about this story and mounted an exhaustive search for Joao through connections in Brazil. As part of this project, executives at Epic are determined to fulfill Joao Pereira de Souza’s dream of visiting the native home of the penguin in Patagonia, in the southern tip of South America, and documenting that journey. More details on the Epic produced project(s) will be released shortly.