Antidote du Jour

I’m off the grid, have back to back meeting and travel that preclude blogging before Friday evening. Richard Smith and Ed Harrison are ably manning the fort.

I am leaving you with a more elaborate Antidote than usual. Enjoy! Hat tip reader Scott:

If you thought the legend of the horse whisperer was impressive, here’s an animal tale with even more bite. Rather than trying to tame wild stallions, fearless Costa Rican fisherman Chito prefers a playful wrestle in the water with his best pal Pocho – a deadly 17ft crocodile. The 52-year-old daredevil draws gasps of amazement from onlookers by wading chest-deep into the water, then whistling for his 980lb buddy – and giving him an affectionate hug. Crazy Chito says: “Poncho is my best friend. This is a very dangerous routine but we have a good relationship. He will look me in the eye and not attack me. It is too dangerous for anyone else to come in the water. It is only ever the two of us.”


Chito made friends with the croc after finding him with a gunshot wound on the banks of the Central American state’s Parismina river 20 years ago. He had been shot in the left eye by a cattle farmer and was close to death. But Chito enlisted the help of several pals to load the massive reptile into his boat. He says: “When I found Poncho in the river he was dying, so I brought him into my house. He was very skinny, weighing only around 150lb I gave him chicken and fish and medicine for six months to help him recover. I stayed by Poncho’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 meant a lot of sacrifice. I had to be there every day. I love all animals – especially ones that have suffered.”


It took years before Chito felt that Poncho 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 Poncho 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 fearlessly waded into the water with the giant reptile his family was so horrified they couldn’t bear to watch. So instead, he took to splashing around with Poncho 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 Poncho as well as feeding him at the lake near his home in the lowland tropical town of Sarapiqui. The odd couple have now become a major tourist attraction, with several tour operators, including Crocodile Adventures, taking visitors on touring cruises to see the pair.


On the Crocodile Adventures website it describes the spectacle as: “One of the most amazing things that no cruise ship passenger will want to miss, the adventure show between the man and the crocodile.”

American crocodiles, which inhabit North, Central and South America, can live to around 70 years old. It is estimated that Poncho is around 50 – almost the same age as his owner. They are also said to be less aggressive than their Nile or Australian counterparts. Chito, whose real name is Gilberto Shedden, was given his nickname by friends, who also call him “Tarzan Tico” – Tico being a familiar word for a Costa Rican.
And he certainly plays up to the name, wearing a tattered pair of leopard-print shorts for his half-hour performances with Poncho.


A keen conservationist, he also offers boat tours, where he eagerly points out a variety of wildlife. But he only charges a few dollars to watch the breathtaking crocodile show, claiming he does not want to cash in on Poncho. He says: “He’s my friend, I don’t want to treat him like a slave or exploit him. I am happy because I rescued him and he is happy with me because he has everything he needs.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. skippy

    Epic false positive, fractal clock ticking, Steve Irwin’s ghosts moans…a daughter pimped for cash flow revenue.

    Skippy…hope he’s single…oops not.

    1. karen1p

      It appears you don’t understand how very dangerous those bankers can be. I don’t think a gunshot would hurt them. I do believe it would require a stake through the heart. But, please be advised to wear a wreath of garlic.

  2. reddweb

    so honchos can be human/tamed too ? I doubt that. Humans can be the worst animals (bankers are good eg.,), with perceived smartness/reality and what-not.

  3. F. Beard

    That’s a brave compassionate man. Love truly does conquer all it seems.

    What next? A lion laying down with a lamb?

    Perhaps if our society was not so winner-take-all we could calm down and see and think more clearly.

  4. Richard Kline

    What a remarkable man. That is key here; the rapport to make this kind of bond isn’t something just anyone is going to achieve. There are those who hold out their hands and birds alight. Here, just bigger with more teeth . . . .

    1. Ming

      Not likely. Investment bankers build relationships only to latter extract large short term gains… So in this case, after chito had healed the crocodile, the crocodile would have suddenly attacked
      and eaten him.

  5. Franklin

    I have to say, it is extraordinary: that a reptilian mind can respond and be tamed like that. And that the magician of a fellow Chito made such an oddly playful project out of sheer compassion, I guess. A wonderful antidote, thanks!

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I thought Chito was friends with a shark?

    I guess that’s harder.

    In the ‘love knows no boundary’ department, I wonder if anyone ever falls in love romantically with a fungus?

  7. Jim Davey

    Re: “…. he is happy with me because he has everything he needs.”

    sounds like the socialism all my wealthy friends rail against …. wait and see if we do away with the current safety nets in the good old U. S. of A.

    read … watch the populace switch from “I got mine and I’m conserving so the rest of you can’t get any” to “Oh s–t that guy is making 1,000 times what I make!!!”

  8. Andy

    Just wait until Poncho isn’t fed. He’ll kill and eat his friend in a moment. Just like your socialist friends will do when they don’t get their government check.

  9. English teacher

    Which do you think fits the post?
    an·ti·dote (nt-dt)
    1. A remedy or other agent used to neutralize or counteract the effects of a poison.
    2. An agent that relieves or counteracts: jogging as an antidote to nervous tension.
       /ˈænɪkˌdoʊt/ Show Spelled[an-ik-doht] Show IPA
    a short account of a particular incident or event of an interesting or amusing nature, often biographical.

    1. MS

      An “Antidote du Jour” has accompanied nearly every Links post since March 2008! Said Yves at the time: “Some readers have complained that this blog is a downer. I’ve decided to add a cute picture du jour an a bit of an antidote…”

      This antidote simply required/deserved a post of its own.

Comments are closed.