Amusing Monday: A friendship of the reptilian kind

We’ve talked about unusual friendships, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the videos showing Gilberto “Chito” Sheeden, a Costa Rican man, wrestling with and even cuddling with Pocho, a 15-foot crocodile.

A story in the London Daily Mail (with some great still photos) quoted Chito in 2009, when he was 52:

“This is a very dangerous routine, but Pocho is my friend and we have a good relationship. He will look me in the eye, and he does not attack me. It is too dangerous for anyone else to come in the water. It is only ever the two of us.”

The pictures of Chito and Pocho tell you more than anyone can describe, but the question remains how such a friendship could ever develop.

As Chito tells it, he found the crocodile close to death about 20 years ago on the shore of a river, where he had been shot in the eye by a farmer who said the crocodile had been feasting on his cattle.

Chito brought the crocodile home, fed him and nursed him back to health, even sleeping at his side. Later, he began to play with him, cautiously at first and then more vigorously over time.

Chito and Pocho became somewhat famous around the world, although I never saw these videos until recently, when Chuck Hower of South Kitsap sent me some still photos showing the pair. Since then, I’ve learned from the Tico Times that the crocodile died in October of natural causes. His age was estimated to be about 50.

Despite reports of the friendship, a story published by “Inside Costa Rica” says crocodiles cannot be tamed, because their brains are too primitive to react other than instinctively — which often means attack.

So why didn’t Pocho attack Chito? Experts at Costa Rica’s inBio Parque, say the bullet that blinded the animal could have affected his brain, eliminating his aggressive tendencies. If Chito had not taken care of Pocho until his final days, the animal surely would have died, because he was unable to fend for himself, the experts said.

I found two other good videos about the friendship on YouTube, one by bTV, the other by Aicirta. I believe the three videos I picked out are among the best, but I was unable to review all of the dozens of videos on YouTube that feature the pair.

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