1. Trust Me
Look at this face! This a face that a mother could love. Or Chito the man.
Sure, he may look sweet, green, and good-natured, but our friend here can get his bite-on something fierce. Among the most savage of predators, crocs can clamp down exerting a pressure of 5,000 lbs. per square inch.
2. Born to Be Wild
An amateur naturalist, tour guide, and fisherman, Gilberto “Chito” Shedden was born and raised in the beautiful town of Siquirres, Limón Province, Costa Rica. Here, he follows the call of the wild. The really wild.
3. While Wending His Way Down a River
While walking along the Reventazón River, Chito came upon this crocodile and did the unthinkable: he befriended the predator. Sometimes love is a fierce and mighty thing.
4. Down, But Not Out for the Count
The croc had eaten lead. And not with those fierce jaws. He’d taken a bullet through the skull and eye. Enlisting the help of friends (and you thought getting your friends to help you move your piano in their new truck was hard!), Chito got the croc in his boat to take him home to heal him. If you’re wondering if getting into a boat with an injured crocodile is dangerous, in a word: “Yes.”
Chito, however, knew that there was no way he was going to leave the injured creature alone and helpless. Man had hurt him, and man was going to heal him.
5. No One Can Resist Head Rubs
Chito named his new companion Pocho, which can refer to an affectionate croc, or mean strength, or reference slang for an “americanized Mexican,” according to the Urban Dictionary. Since Pocho can bear down with his jaws exerting a pressure of 5,000 lbs. per square inch, whatever you mean, it’s suggested that you smile when saying Pocho.
6. This Is How We Do It
On the way to helping Pocho heal, Chito fed him by hand, gave him affection, attention, and demonstrated how to chew one’s food. Kisses and cuddles were part of the healing program. Chito felt that these tangible tokens of affection were vital to Pocho’s recovery and to restoring his faith in humankind. Not surprisingly, Chito’s wife, his first wife, had her reservations.
7. When Not to Lay Down Ultimatums
Chito’s first love laid down the law when she felt that the inter-species friendship was getting a little heady. It’s one thing to take a person-eating predator into your back yard, feed him by hand, and nurse him to health. But a woman doesn’t want to compete for a man’s attention with one of the fiercest beasts on the planet. She gave her husband an ultimatum. “It’s either Pocho or me,” she declared. He loved her dearly, so with sadness in his eyes, he told his new beasty bestie, “I’m gonna miss that gal! She was a sweetheart.”
Pocho muttered “True that.” Then he burped, ran a toothpick along his teeth and muttered, “Tastes like chicken.”
“What did you say?” demanded Chito.
“Nothing,” Pocho said.
8. Find Pocho
When Pocho was healed, it was time to set him free. That demanded, once again, friends, a boat, and a croc. Chito set Pocho free. Then
Then Chito and his six, er, five friends returned home.
9. Knock Knock
When Chito arose the next morning he was surprised to find his Pocho on his verandah. You can stay, told his bestie. What are friends for? Besides, when you’re King of the River, you get to stay anyplace you choose. And Pocho chose Chito’s place.
10. Family Ties Are Delicious!
Chito remarried, had a lovely daughter, and maintained his strong bond with Pocho.
“What a scrumptious-looking family you have!!” said the croc.
“Don’t even go there,” smiled Chito.
11. I Think I Love You!
Animal magnetism cuts both ways. Love is a toothsome thing.
12. Why Yes, I Am Happy to See You
Set free into the river to do his wild thing, Pocho and Chito still maintain their strong bond of inter-species friendship. Chito calls and Pocho comes to pay his respects. And you can’t even get your significant other to return your texts.
13. Wet Work
The two amigos work hard and play hard. They’ve even made a video together called “The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles.” Their dream is being offered their own reality-based TV show. But they vehemently deny that they’d sink so low as to release a staged adult-themed video. “That’s so Kardashian!” They remain confident they can land their dream on their own talents, sink or swim.
14. The Results of the Shot Still Heard
Some speculate that Pocho has become more docile as a result of brain damage from the bullet, rendering him more amenable to human-like emotions. Both friends take umbrage with that. “I mean, have you seen humans? Are you fully aware what that can do?” griped an insulted Pocho through an interpreter. “I’m a predator, not an unreasonable, blood-thirsty, irrational creature.”
15. Don’t Try This At Home
16. A Place in the Sun
To protect themselves from the sun’s fierce rays, Chito wears sunscreen, and Pocho wears Chito.
17. Sadly, This Too Shall Pass
At fifty years of crocodile age, Pocho passed on to his reward. Chito mourned him with a funeral at which he shed crocodile tears.
18. The Big One
Chito donated his buddy’s body to be stuffed and housed in the Siquirres town museum. He considered an offer from a Louisiana cuisine company but wanted to keep his friend close.
19. The Croc Whisperer
Chito has befriended a new croc. In honor of the first, he’s named Pocho II, or sequels rock the croc.
20. Brain Drain
Scientists are unsure if other crocs can be tamed as Pocho the First was coaxed into gentleness. Was it the bullet or love that tamed the wild beast? Chito is willing to venture that any predator can be tamed with love. He’d bet his life on that.