It goes without saying that you should be careful when it comes to wild animals. However, there are times when these creatures can surprise us. This man had a wildlife encounter with something that will terrify even the bravest among us. Gilberto ‘Chito’ Shedden, a farmer-fisherman, had been on the Reventazón River on the day that it happened. It started out peacefully, but it turned out that he was in danger! In the path, he saw a large crocodile looking at him. Did he make it out alive?
Just Another Morning Stroll
In 1989, he had been walking near the river when he found a crocodile staring right at him. You might expect a scary story since he did just run into a terrifying predator. However, he ended up befriending this creature instead! How did this man end up becoming best friends with a croc? This is not an ordinary story about an encounter with a wild creature!
A Fierce Predator
You do not have to be a genius to know that crocs are fierce creatures. They have great speed and strong jaws that make them killing machines. Was Chito going to become a meal? He had no idea what to expect even though he knew that he was in danger. However, he found it strange that the animal did not move towards him… or at all!
Despite His Fear
This was how he realized that this animal was on the verge of death. When Chito finally got over his fear, he took a closer look at the crocodile. Why wasn’t it moving? The animal was large but also pretty skinny. On top of that, he had a serious head injury that looked like a gunshot. What should he do?
He Brought It Home
Chito guessed that some rancher injured the poor crocodile as a way to defend a herd. Perhaps the same person left the animal to die. The first thing that came to his mind was that he was not going to let this creature die. This was the reason he took a bold step! However, he could not do it on his own… At the time, it did not even occur to him that this act of kindness was going to change his life.
His Pet Crocodile
At the time, the croc was pretty small. Despite this, it still took the help of several friends before he could bring it back to the boat. He decided to bring it back to his house in Siquirres. It is normal enough to bring an injured pup back home, but this was a different matter altogether. Do we even need to say that his family was not excited to find a beast in the yard? What did Chito plan to do with the crocodile?
He Earned Its Trust
Chito simply wanted the animal to recover before he released the croc into the wild. He had no idea that this reptile was not on the same page. At any rate, Chino wanted to make this reptile feel at home. He made sure to feed, pet, and look after it. Later on, he explained, “Food wasn’t enough. The crocodile needed my love to regain the will to live.”
Giving It A Name
It meant that Chito was illegally keeping a crocodile on his property. This was the reason he brought the animal to a pond in a nearby forest until he sorted out the permits he needed. Chito decided to give the croc the name Pocho. In the language of Costa Rican people, it means strong. What a fitting name! The reptile showed Chito that he was strong and pulled through it all. He gained weight and got healthier.
Into The Wild Again
“In the beginning, I wasn’t sure of how close I could get. It took me a while to understand the signs he now gives me,” Chito explained. But did Pocho bite the person who rescued him? Chito shared, “I slowly started to touch him and he never tried to bite me.” However, their time together was almost over…
Soon enough, Pocho had to return to the wild. When it was time to do this, Chito brought the reptile to the nearby river so that it can lead a normal life. Well, this was what he assumed would happen! You are going to be shocked when you hear what happened when Pocho realized that he was on his own.
A Surprise On The Veranda
It would look like Pocho did not get the memo that he was supposed to live like a regular croc again. In the morning, Chito opened the door and found a surprise on the veranda. The crocodile was sleeping soundly there! When he called out to Pocho, the croc made his way towards him. Chito said, “Once the crocodile followed me home, and came to me whenever I called its name, I knew it could be trained.”
Their Special Friendship
Chito realized that he and Pocho shared a special bond. Even though his first wife did not agree with his plan, he wanted the reptile to say. “Another wife I could get. Pocho was one in a million,” he even said. He wanted his family to understand that they had nothing to worry about. Why, he could even stick his arm inside the mouth of this animal! But how did Pocho turn out to be such a gentle fellow?
They Wanted To See The Pair
The pair received a lot of attention! Chito decided to put on a show so that people can watch him swim with his crocodile pal. He was shocked by the number of people that gathered on the riverbank to watch them. For over a decade, Chito and Pocho did the show once a week.
Putting On A Show For Everyone
This performance came with a purpose. Chito wanted people to see their amazing friendship! They did this in Finca Las Tilapias, an artificial lake in Siquirres, Costa Rica. People from all over the world would flock to the river to watch them splash around in the water!
A Crocodile Star
“I am happy because I rescued him and he is happy with me because he has everything he needs,” Chito explained when he was interviewed. It did not take long before he and Pocho became famous not only in Costa Rica but across the globe as well!
How They Communicate
These two pals swam together every single day, rest on the banks, and communicate only using their eyes. “So much of his feelings is in his eyes,” Chito once said. He also said that he could tell when Pocho felt anxious because the reptile would blink a lot. He said, “When he’s happy, his eyes are normal.” How amazing is it that they could speak to each other this way?
The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles
Pocho and Chito swam together for many years and caught the attention of people from all over the globe. A documentary was made about them! It was called “The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles.”
Two Decades Together
Two decades have passed since Chito and Pocho first met each other. People from different parts of the globe visited specifically to watch them perform. Many could not believe how big the reptile was! When the word got out, news outlets from Chile, the United Kingdom, and the United States sought them out.
When Chito and Pocho put on a show, they did incredible stunts. He would swim in circles with his reptilian buddy, open the mouth to look inside, and perform a number of tricks. In the end, we are glad that they got to star in their very own documentary.
His Family Member
Pocho was considered a part of the family. Chito’s wife was not pleased to hear that he loved the crocodile more than her, but it all worked out in the end. There is no denying that Chito loves Pocho. According to his wife, he would always spend his free time with the animal.
The Death Of Pocho
Sadly, crocodiles do not live forever. Pocho died of old age in the pool in 2011. Of course, Chito grieved the death of his companion. On top of that, he held a big funeral in honor of his friend. This must be the first funeral for a crocodile in history! Chito sang to Pocho as loved ones and fans paid their respects.
Costa Rican Treasure
Costa Rica actually named Pocho a national treasure! Authorities ended up stuffing him so that he can be put on display in the town museum of Sequirres. It has been seven years since the death of Pocho. Chito still likes to go to the river near his house and watch the crocs sunbathing. He must miss his friend!
A nature photographer got to meet Pocho and offered an explanation for the behavior of the animal. According to this expert, the reptile probably suffered brain damage that turned off his aggressiveness. We do not know if this is true, but Chito was lucky to have such a loyal friend. At any rate, we doubt that he cared what caused the gentle behavior of this predator!
A New Poncho
“I feel the same as I did before. Nothing has changed, people are still always asking me about Pocho, sending me photos of Pocho, telling me how much they loved the show,” Chito shared. He actually has a new friend now! Let us find out if Pocho II is just as amiable as the original.
In The Future
Chito has expressed that he might have a show with Pocho II in the future. According to him, he only wants to do this since he considers them special! Chito also said that he plans to do this “because they are my friends and I want to share that.”
His Best Pal
We are sure that Chito will never forget the fact that he became best friends with an animal that most consider a monster. Over the years, he earned plenty of lovely memories with Pocho. We do not know what the future holds for him and Pocho II, but we are sure that he will always look back on those amazing 20 years with his first crocodile pal.