This is the unbelievable true story of a fisherman who saved a crocodile from the brink of de.a.th and forged a 22-year friendship.
It is easy to see how this incredible story has gone viral, as it is a wonderful example of the connection between humans and nature.
Friendship was born in 1989 on the banks of the Reventazón-Parismina River in Siquirres, Costa Rica.
A dying crocodile was rescued by Gilberto “Chito” Shedden, a local fisherman. Chito brought the crocodile back to health and returned it to the wild.
Little did he know he would find the crocodile on his porch the following day, marking the beginning of a magical 22-year friendship.
“Once the crocodile followed me home and came to see me whenever I called his name, I knew he could be trained,” Chito said.
Later named Pocho, the crocodile had been shot in the left eye by a cattle farmer fearing he would prey on his cattle.
“I just want him to feel that someone loved him, that not all humans are bad,” Chito said.
While Pocho was recovering, Chito made sure he was always well fed. Chito even gave him kisses, chatted with him, and slept nearby.
“The food was not enough. The crocodile needed my love to regain its will to live.” Chito explained.
Contrary to his cold-blooded nature, Pocho reciprocated affection by running toward Chito with his mouth open when he entered the water but would then close his mouth before he got too close to be kissed on his snout!
Chito feared that the authorities would take away his reptilian friend, so he hid Pocho in a secret pond in the nearby woods.
In the end, someone spotted Chito swimming with the crocodile and reported it.
Costa Rica’s Channel 7 then filmed the couple in 2000, bringing them to fame in Chile, the United States, and even the United Kingdom.
The Environment and Telecommunications Ministry allowed celebrity couples to live together as long as they could monitor Pocho. After that, a veterinarian and a biologist started feeding Pocho 30kg of chicken and fish weekly.
The next ten years would see the two perform weekly on Sundays in his hometown of Siquirres, where they would show off their friendship underwater to tourists.
A documentary titled “The Man Who Swims With The Crocodile” was directed by South African Roger Horrocks to document their unique relationship.
The filmmaker suggested that Pocho’s head i.nju.ry from the shot may have damaged his brain, altering the reptile’s natural behavior, allowing him to perceive human emotions after being rescued by Chito on that fateful day.
Sadly, every story has an end as Pocho died of natural causes on October 12, 2011. He was believed to be around 60 years old.
A public “human style” funeral was held for the de.a.d crocodile, where Chito sang to him while clutching his “hand,” and his taxman remains are now being on display at the Siquirres town museum.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of his death, and Chito is currently training a new crocodile named Pocho II, a crocodile he often encounters in the same river near his home, but their friendship will evolve in the long run, is uncertain as his encounter with the original Pocho was really special to him.