No, this is not photoshopped. What you’re seeing is a crocodile named ‘Poncho’ kissing a Costa Rican animal lover and fisherman named Chito Shedden.
“Love conquers all” this probably best way to describe this very unusual friendship, which is rapidly changing everything we thought we knew about crocodiles. It all started back in 1989 when the fisherman saw the croc dying from a gunshot wound on a riverbank in Siquirres. Chito knew that he could not…would not, leave the animal there to die. Even if it meant putting his own life in extreme danger.
A Friend In Need…
Snedden, who’s also a tour guide, has learned quite a few things in his life. Clearly, how to wrangle in a crocodile without being eaten alive is one of them! Crocs can weigh upwards of 850 lbs and grow as big as 16 feet long. But in 1989, the croc was young and skinny — weighing only 150 lbs. The animal had been shot right through the head and left eye by a local cattle rancher. That’s when Snedden did something that would change his life forever.
How Do I Explain This To My Wife?
He knew that he could help the animal heal if he could get it and take it home. That’s exactly what he and his friends did. So there on the banks of Costa Rica’s Parismina river, the ‘Crocodile Man’ rounded up a group of brave friends to lift the injured croc into his boat and take him home were Chito cared for the him right in his backyard.
For six months, Pocho, whose name means strength, was nursed back to health on a healthy diet of chicken, fish, and medicine. Chito even slept with the crocodile during its recovery. “Food wasn’t enough. The crocodile needed my love to regain the will to live,” noted Shedden. “I stayed by Pocho’s side while he was ill, sleeping next to him at night. I just wanted him to feel that somebody loved him, that not all humans are bad. It meant a lot of sacrifice. I had to be there every day. I love all animals- especially ones that have suffered.”
Road To Recovery
Going beyond just taking care of the crocodile, he even simulated the chewing of food with his mouth to encourage the croc to eat. Chito gave Pocho kisses and hugs while talking to and petting it. Until the Costa Rican authorities gave him wildlife permits to legally own and raise the seriously injured crocodile, he kept Pocho concealed in a pond in a nearby forest. Soon, the injured crocodile was back to its healthy state and it was time for the pair to say goodbye. But guess what Chito saw when he woke up the next morning?
There Pocho was, the very next morning, waiting for Chito. In fact, every time Chito attempted to release Pocho into the wild, he would always come back. It seems Chito’s tender loving care has made the crocodile stay by his savior’s side. Its a good thing Chito had Poncho because his wife left him! At first she was cool with her husband doing such a kind thing. But eventually she got fed up with him spending so much time with the reptile so LEFT HIM!
Best Buddies For Life
At another point during his recovery, Chito left Pocho in a lake near his house. Yet as he turned to walk away, to his amazement Pocho got out of the water and began to follow him home. Convinced that the crocodile could be tamed, he fearlessly waded into the water with the giant reptile. His family was so horrified they couldn’t bear to watch! Eventually, Pocho became a member of the Sheeden’s family, along with Chito’s second wife and daughter.
Can You Teach an Old Croc New Tricks?
He said, “Once the crocodile followed me home, and came to me whenever I called its name, I knew it could be trained. Another wife I could get. (A crocodile behaving like) Pocho was one in a million.” The Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry permitted Chito to keep the croc as long as it was monitored. He even worked with a veterinarian and a biologist and fed Pocho 30 kilograms of fish and chicken a week.
“After a decade, I started to work with him. At first it was slow, slow. I played with him a bit, slowly doing more. Then I found out that when I called his name he would come over to me,” he said. In July 2000, Chito and Pocho’s unbelievable friendship become famous after Costa Rica’s Channel 7 filmed the unusual pair which drew huge attention from all over the world.
And for more than 10 years, Chito and Pocho had performed a weekly act on Sunday afternoons in a 100 square meter artificial lake at Finca Las Tilapias in his hometown of Siquirres, Costa Rica, for tourists from around the world – demonstrating the unique and seemingly impossible friendship between man and crocodile.
But sadly, on October 12, 2011, Pocho died. He died of natural causes in the water outside Shedden’s home. Pocho was given a human style funeral and was attended by human friends and admirers. During the funeral, Chito sang and held his hand as he bid farewell to his beloved friend. Pocho’s remains were stuffed and permanently displayed behind glass in the Sequirres town museum as he was considered as a national treasure of Costa Rican culture.
Before Pocho passes away, a South African filmmaker Roger Horrocks has completed a documentary about their unbelievable, unique and seemingly impossible friendship between man and crocodile entitled “The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles”. Chito is currently and trying to connect with a new crocodile named Pocho II but since his unique special relationship with the original Pocho is truly one of a kind, the success with the new prospect is totally uncertain.