Pocho The Crocodile

Pocho The Crocodile

An American crocodile named Pocho gained international attention for his emotional friendship and relationship of over 20 years with Gilberto Shedden, a local fisherman who saved its life.

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Chito, a fisherman, tour guide, and naturalist from Siquirres, Limón Province, Costa Rica, discovered a dying male crocodile weighing 70 kg (150 lb) on the banks of the Reventazón River in 1989. Upon closer examination, Shedden discovered that the crocodile had been shot in the head through the left eye. The crocodile had been shot by a local cattle farmer, as it was preying on a herd of cows. Shedden took the crocodile home in his boat.

For six months, Shedden fed the crocodile 30 kg (66 lb) of chicken and fish a week, sleeping with it at night in his home. Shedden also simulated the chewing of food with his mouth to encourage the crocodile to eat and gave it kisses and hugs while talking to it and petting it. Shedden later stated his belief that providing food alone would not have helped it recover, and that "the crocodile needed my love to regain the will to live".

After the crocodile's health improved, Shedden released the crocodile now named 'Pocho' in a nearby river to return it to the wild. The next morning, Shedden awoke to find that the crocodile had followed him home and was sleeping on his veranda. Shedden decided to allow the crocodile to stay, where it lived in the water outside Shedden's home and was considered a member of his family, alongside Shedden's second wife and daughter; Shedden's first wife had left him because he was spending too much time with the crocodile.

Shedden eventually trained the crocodile to respond to its own name being called. For more than twenty years, Shedden swam with the crocodile in the river outside his home, mostly at night, talking and playing with Pocho while hugging, kissing, and caressing him. Pocho died of natural causes in the water outside Shedden's home in Siquirres on 12 October 2011. Following a public funeral held for the crocodile, which was attended by friends and admirers, Shedden sang to the crocodile whilst holding its 'hand'. Pocho's taxidermied remains are on permanent display behind glass in the Siquirres town museum.

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