Gilberto “Chito” Shedden is from the small fishing town of Siquirres in Costa Rica. Ever since he was a child, Chito was fascinated with the animals that everyone else avoided- namely crocs. Chito, a fisherman and tour guide, always took every opportunity to interact with the beasts.
“We’d be out there sometimes in a boat, so I’d get close to them, perhaps give them a piece of chicken so I could get close and touch them. I was always very careful with them. I respect animals and always maintained some order to not have problems. If a croc was upset, I couldn’t get close. I tried to show them that we are friends and not bother them so they never try to bite me.”
One day, Chito discovered a croc who had been shot in the eye by one of the local farmers and decided it was his duty to save it. Despite the misgivings of friends and family, Chito took the three meter long reptile back to his home.
Chito would let the croc, who he named Pocho, hang out on the banks of a nearby lake during the day, and would visit to feed and comfort him during the evenings.
“At first he wouldn’t eat it, but then he began to eat. I kept feeding him chicken until he started looking good. I would try to pet him so he would feel that I cared about him. When I would touch him, he would sometimes get a little irritated, so I kept on caressing and caressing him. And I would say, relax, relax. I want to be your friend. Behave nicely ’cause you won’t be bothered anymore…I would touch, at first, his tail, then the belly, till finally I touched his head. When I touched the head, that’s when we had finally become friends.”
Learn more about the story from an interview Chito did with NPR here.