PROVIDING INFORMATION AND ANALYSES OF ANIMAL ISSUES IN LOS ANGELES
Man Keeps 1,000 pound Croc as Pet; It takes 10 years to domesticate him
The Crocodile Whisperer.............
Chito made friends with the croc after finding him with a gunshot
wound on the banks of the Parismina river 20 years ago. He had been
shot in the eye and was close to death. He says: "When I found Pocho
in the river he was dying, so I brought him to my house. He was very
skinny, weighing only around 150 lb. I gave him chicken and fish and
medicine for six months to help him recover. I stayed by Pocho's side
while he was ill, sleeping next to him at night. I just wanted him to
feel that somebody loved him, that not all humans are bad."
It took years before Chito felt that Pocho had bonded with him enough
to get closer to the animal.
He says: "After a decade I started to work with him. At first it was
slow, slow. I played with him a bit, slowly doing more. Then I found
out that when I called his name he would come over to me." At one
point during his recovery, Chito left the croc in a lake near his
house. But as he turned to walk away, to his amazement, Pocho got out
of the water and began to follow him home. Chito recalls: "That
convinced me the crocodile could be tame." But when he first waded
into the water with the giant reptile his family couldn't watch. So
instead, he took to splashing around with Pocho when they were asleep.
Four years ago Chito showed some of his tricks to friends, including
getting the animal to close his eyes on command, and they convinced
him to go public with a show. Now he swims and plays with Pocho as well as feeding him at the lake near his home in Sarapiqui.