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The crocodile whisperer
June 25, 2012 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Rather than trying to tame wild stallions, fearless Costa Rican fisherman Chito preferred a playful wrestle in the water with his best pal Pocho - a deadly 17ft crocodile. For several years, the 52-year-old daredevil drew 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 said: "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. Sadly Pocho died last October, at the age of 50. But his fame lives on.
posted by unSane (38 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Died of natural causes."

Considering what happened to Steve Irwin, He was very lucky.
posted by zarq at 10:26 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Considering what happened to Steve Irwin, He was very lucky.

To be clear, the crocodile died here.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


Pura vida, Pocho.
posted by jquinby at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2012


Awww....
posted by mule98J at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2012


Pocho or Poncho? You type Pocho twice, Poncho once.
posted by pracowity at 10:34 AM on June 25, 2012


I'm very sad for Pocho... but i am curious:

Would being eaten by a crocodile be classified as dying by "a natural cause."?
posted by cacofonie at 10:35 AM on June 25, 2012


In those clips, the croc seems awfully sluggish. Kind of...tranquilized?

That said, crocodiles are social animals, so I suppose it might be a natural bond.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 AM on June 25, 2012


I can imagine all the other crocs, "There goes Pocho, playing with his food again..."
posted by LordSludge at 10:42 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Finally, a redeeming YouTube comment: "this is still a better love story than twilight´╗┐"

In all seriousness, I suspect he waited until after the croc has caught something. My layman's understanding is that they get pretty sluggish after eating.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:42 AM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I like the comment in the last link:

jerry spencer Saturday October 22 2011

chito and pocho were 'brothers from another mother'


Well, I suppose if you.... wait. No, they really weren't, you oversentimental fruitcake.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well the snopes link says he lived with the Po(n)cho for more than a decade before starting to train and play with him.

Isolated from any other animal contact I'd think bonding would be a reasonably expected outcome?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:45 AM on June 25, 2012


Burhanistan: " To be clear, the crocodile died here."

Heh. Lack of reading comprehension ftw. :D Thanks.
posted by zarq at 10:46 AM on June 25, 2012


Pretty clear at 1:45 in the video that it's a duck in a crocodile costume. IE, not dangerous at all.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:08 AM on June 25, 2012


Heh. Lack of reading comprehension ftw. :D Thanks.

I read it the way you did at first too.
posted by OmieWise at 11:09 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


A 950 lb duck in a crocodile costume is NOT dangerous at all? (I'm allowing for 30 lbs of costume here.)
posted by onhazier at 11:10 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


WinnipegDragon: "Well the snopes link says he lived with the Po(n)cho for more than a decade before starting to train and play with him.

Isolated from any other animal contact I'd think bonding would be a reasonably expected outcome?
"

Not necessarily true for reptilians. There was a bodybuilder who kept a giant python in a glass cage. He described entering the enclosure while the creature was hungry, and preparing to molt (bad vision), and being attacked. He only lived (in his estimation) because he was near the door, and able to squeeze the door against the python hard enough to get it to release. But he'd owned that animal for well over a decade.

But then, pythons aren't social animals. Biiiiig difference.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:14 AM on June 25, 2012


Now I'm wondering if a stingray could take out a croc like it did Irwin.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:15 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: "> Considering what happened to Steve Irwin, He was very lucky.

To be clear, the crocodile died here.
"

The human was still lucky. That's a long run of luck. But then, he was smarter about it (over a decade before he started "playing" with it) than the "polar bears are my friends!" idiot.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:15 AM on June 25, 2012


"Died a natural death at age 50?" The life expectancy for Costa Rican males is 76.

Otherwise, that's quite a story, and I wish his family the best.
posted by crapmatic at 11:33 AM on June 25, 2012


I'm sure Mrs. Crocodile and Crocodile Junior will be happy to have your wishes, crapmatic.
posted by Malor at 11:38 AM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Died a natural death at age 50?" The life expectancy for Costa Rican males is 76.

They can still have strokes and heart attacks and stuff before then.

Reptiles definitely do seem to have personalities. They're not "larger than life" personalities like you have often with dogs and sometimes with cats, but they're still personalities.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2012


But then, pythons aren't social animals. Biiiiig difference.

Oh I know that. I went through a snake-owning phase, and it only took on stupid, inattentive feeding mistake to get snagged by my 6' Carpet Python. After many years of event-free feeding she still decided my hand was food.

The best part was when she tried to constrict my arm. 6' sounds big but they are skinny snakes and there was no way she was a threat to me, and couldn't have even handled two or three fingers let alone my wrist. It was kind of ridiculous.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2012


IT WAS THE CROCODILE THAT DIED, PEOPLE.

THE CROCODILE.
posted by unSane at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


Oh, and again, it's the crocodile that died, not the person; his species lives to about 55 on average, so 50 isn't all that young.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:43 AM on June 25, 2012


Pocho was the only love of his life, but now that he's gone, Crazy Chito is left with a lot of baggage... and a pair of boots.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:45 AM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


I hate nearly everything about this story. Man and crocodile should not live as friends! Reading this gives me squidgy toes in the same way that watching video of people up high does. *shudder*
posted by ChuraChura at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2012


Wait, who died?
posted by Naberius at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2012


It's pretty sad that the guy got eaten by the crocodile, but really what was he expecting!
posted by anazgnos at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


From all the nice things he said about the crocodile, it seems to me that really would have wanted to go that way.
posted by Naberius at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now you're just trolling; trolling for crocodiles ...
posted by scruss at 11:58 AM on June 25, 2012


I bet when Pocho died, Chito shed...

[puts on sunglasses]

... crocodile tears.

YEEEEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!
posted by unSane at 12:25 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chito and Pocho's relationship is going to be referenced in a future movie called Row, which stars Ryan Gosling as a boat mechanic and stuntman who has a sideline as a getaway skipper for bank heists. After one of the heists goes terribly wrong, Gosling's character, demonstrating his usual reptilian cool, simply puts on his windbreaker (which is embroidered with a crocodile), and takes off, rowing his outrigger canoe upstream.

Later, confronted by a mobster, Gosling's character says, "Do you know the story about the crocodile and the fisherman? Your friend Chito and I frolicked in the river, to the delight of a crowd."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:33 PM on June 25, 2012


unSane: "IT WAS THE CROCODILE THAT DIED, PEOPLE.

THE CROCODILE.
"

Heh. Sorry for inadvertently derailing your thread.

Although you must admit, these stories usually don't go this way!
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on June 25, 2012


> Chito and Pocho's relationship is going to be referenced in a future movie called Row

I keep searching IMDB but, no matter how much I want it to, it won't appear.
posted by Panjandrum at 1:02 PM on June 25, 2012


Air Pocho - A basketball-playing crocodile saves the day by scoring the winning baskets in a high-stakes game, thereby raising enough money to keep the community center from being shut down.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:34 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chito and Pocho's relationship is going to be referenced in a future movie called Row, which stars Ryan Gosling as a boat mechanic

...and Jonny Hallyday as the aging, somewhat louche, leather clad crocodile.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:57 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:23 PM on June 25, 2012


This is one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. The story of how patient and caring Chito was for the injured Poncho is inspiring.

.
posted by telstar at 4:33 PM on June 26, 2012


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