After nursing a sick crocodile back to health, this Costa Rican native learned how powerful the bond between man and an animal can be.
- Credit: Higher Perspective
Unlike cats, dogs, and bunnies, crocodiles lack an exterior charm that persuades people to befriend them. Though this is beneficial, as the wild animals are dangerous predators, in some instances, crocodiles are capable of forming relationships with humans. The following story is evidence of this.
Nearly twenty years ago, a five-meter-long crocodile was found laying on the side of the bank, severely injured and only 150 pounds (69 kg). Reportedly, the reptile had been shot by a cattle farmer and was preparing to die on the bank of the Parasmina River. When a Costa Rican native who goes by the name “Chito” Gilberto Shedden found him, he knew he had to help. So, he named the crocodile Pocho and nursed him back to help.
“I just wanted him to feel that someone loved him, that not all humans are bad”, Chito told The Tico Times. “I love all animals, especially ones that have suffered.”
- Credit: Roger Horrocks/ NHU AFRICA
For six months, the naturalist fed Pocho chicken, fish, and medicine. He even slept near the crocodile during its recovery! To encourage it to eat, Chito went as far as simulating the chewing of food in his mouth and began giving the reptile kisses and hugs while talking and petting it.
“Food wasn’t enough. The crocodile needed my love to regain the will to live,” said Chito.
After months of rehabilitation, Pocho had regained his strength. Confident that the crocodile could survive, Chito took him back to the river to release him. However, Pocho didn’t want to be left behind! He followed Chito home, much to the surprise of the Tico and his family.
- Credit: thebuzztube.com
Chito ended up asking permission from the Minister for Environment to keep Pocho and, with the help of a vet, ended up looking after Pocho for nearly two decades. The reptile became a member of Chito’s family, along with his second wife and daughter (his first wife left him because he spent too much time with the crocodile).
“Once the crocodile followed me home, and came to me whenever I called its name, I knew it could be trained,” he explained. “Another wife I could get. (A crocodile behaving like) Pocho was one in a million.”
The duo’s bond only strengthened over the years as both learned to trust each other. They spent hours swimming and playing together and Pocho even learned to respond and visit the house when his name was called. Over the past two decades, thousands of tourists, scientists and animal behavior experts have visited the pair and witnessed them having fun.
- Credit: Mascotas
Our Planet reports that every week, Chito and Pocho would perform a weekly act on Sunday afternoons in a 100 square meter artificial lake at Finca Las Tilapias in his hometown of Siquirres, Costa Rica. They would perform in the water for tourists around the world to demonstrate the unique bond between crocodile and human.
In 2011, Pocho died of natural causes in the water outside Chito’s home. His family held the first “human” style public funeral ever given to a crocodile and plenty of visitors attended the service. To this day, Pocho is recognized as a cultural treasure of Costa Rica and his stuffed body is on permanent display behind glass in the Sequirres town museum.
- Credit: WikiBuzz
To continue Pocho’s legacy and prove that humans can peacefully co-exist with all types of animals, Chito is now working with a new crocodile named Pocho II. Though prospects of long-term success remain uncertain, it is possible another unique friendship will be formed.
What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!