There are amazing animal stories everywhere, but this is something truly extra special. This is the story of the man who became best friends with a South American crocodile.
The crocodile can grow up to 16 feet long, it can weigh as much as 850lbs and is among the world’s deadliest predators. There are no previous cases where a man has bonded to any great extent with a crocodile, but there are plenty where a man has become a crocodile’s dinner.
So join us as we meet the first man to break this pattern and see him and his friend the crocodile in action.
10. Meet Chito
Gilberto Shedden is known to his friends as “Chito.” He’s from Costa Rica and he is both a fisherman and a tour guide. He’s also an enthusiastic amateur naturalist with an eye for the unusual. That may be how he came upon Pocho, the crocodile, and formed his unusual bond of friendship.
9. Discovering Pocho
Chito was out walking on the river in 1989 when he found a dying crocodile. The big male crocodile had been shot by a local farmer. Instead of shrugging and moving on, Chito decided he would rescue the croc. He got his friends to carry it to his home where he would take care of it.
8. Out Of The Jungle
The crocodile was used to a diet of jungle life, but Chito couldn’t provide this in sufficient quantities, so he fed the croc on chicken and fish instead. He also made sure that he got medical attention and even went so far as to sleep with the croc at night to be on hand if needed.
7. Supportive Family
Not only were the family supportive of Chito’s endeavors, they were pleased that he was taking care of Pocho. Over time they noticed that Pocho was becoming more like a friend to Chito and less like a wild animal. In fact, Chito had begun to train Pocho in secret.
6. They Bonded
Pocho may be a reptile, but he’s not stupid. He bonded with Chito who had taken such good care of him when everything was terrible for Pocho. However, their bond didn’t develop overnight. It took 10 years for Chito to get Pocho used to a few commands and to being touched.
5. Real Friendship
Chito and Pocho became inseparable. Chito would walk out into the river every day and call for his friend. Then Pocho would appear, as if by magic, from the depths of the river and they would begin to play together. Soon, this caught the attention of some visiting tourists and the ritual became famous.
4. Sunday Shows
“The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles” is how Chito became known to the larger world. His fame and Pocho’s grew as their activities became widely publicized. Each Sunday they would perform a public show for visitors and tourists in that part of Costa Rica. They featured in a documentary together on the National Geographic channel.
Nobody knew why Pocho should accept Chito when no other crocodile would. It’s been speculated that when Pocho was shot, his brain was damaged and he lost the instinct to eat Chito on sight. This in turn, enabled him to learn to love and trust his human friend and to play with him.
2. Nobody Else
It’s worth noting that while Pocho and Chito could play safely together, no-one else was allowed near Pocho. He hadn’t lost his instincts to attack anyone else. While Chito was safe, anyone else who came near him would have been hurt or even killed by the ferocious croc.
1. The End Of An Era
Sadly, Pocho passed away in 2011. He died of natural causes. It’s estimated that he was approximately 50 years old at the time of his death. There was a full funeral given to Pocho by Chito and his friends. Pocho’s body is now on display in the Siquirres town museum so that his legacy can live on in Costa Rica.