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INSIDECOSTARICA.COM | COSTA RICA  NEWS |         Monday 26 September 2011

"Chito" and His Crocodile "Pocho": A 20 Year Friendship

"Chito" (Gilberto Shedden) has come to be known in the world as the first to tame a crocodile. For the last 20 years, "Pocho" - a five metre long, 445 kg crocodile - has been best friend to the Costa Rican fisherman.

See more photos below. JEFREY ARGUEDAS/ EFE

With a huge smile on his face, "Chito", 54, plays with Pocho like next to nothing in a pond on his farm in the canton of Siquirres, Limón.

But, not only do the two swim together, Chito has taught Pocho a few tricks, like rolling over, giving him is leg, holding up  his tail and head for the cameras and to close one eye.

The relationship between man and crocodile is close and unique in the world and is the reason why dozens of scientists, animal behavior experts and journalists visit the home of "Chito," his wife, his daughter and his crocodile each year.

The story of "Chito" and "Pocho" is one of pure friendship.

The two met 20 years ago, Chito finding the crocodile dying in the Parismina river, after being shot by a farmer for eating one of his cows near shore.

The fisherman, who was 34 at the time, decided to load the dying croc on his boat and take him home for the hide. But, as the days passed the animal did not die and thus began to take heal and feed it.

Olga Valle, Chito's wife, explains that her husband kept the crocodile as secret from her and the family for months and that it was a mystery where husband disappeared to every night.

Now, every Sunday, Chito and Pocho show off for the cameras, putting a show for one and all to see.

Many flock to see the show put on by the "Tarzan Tico" to see if it is real or just a trick.

But, keeping the crocodile as pet comes at a cost. Pocho, who is believed to be about 50 years old and is expected to live some 30 years more, eats from six to eight chickens, plus some fish, up to three times a week.

In the two decades of friendship, Chito says he has never been hurt by the crocodile, but admits he is not as friendly with other people.




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