In 1989, Chito was walking along the shore of the Parismina River in Costa Rica. Suddenly, he saw something eye-catching. It was a larger than life crocodile. Usually, the fearsome reptile would be something to avoid at all costs. Yet Chito saw the creature was in distress. It had been shot in the left eye and was severely injured.
Chito loves all animals regardless of their reputations. He couldn’t bear to let another living thing suffer. He rescued the crocodile and decided to nurse him back to health. Chito named the crocodile Pocho. He said, “I wanted him to feel that someone loved him. That not all humans are bad.”
Bit by bit Pocho recovered and it was time for him to go back to the wild. But after returning to the river the crocodile did a U-turn and followed Chito home. He refused to leave his new friend.
Chito received permission from the government to take care of Pocho. Over 20 years, the bond between man and crocodile deepened. In Costa Rica, the two of them became household names. Their trust in one another was rock solid. They swam, played, and put on public shows together. Chito would even put his head in Pocho’s mouth.
When Pocho died of old age, Chito was heartbroken. The funeral was a national event. Chito thinks it’s important to share his and Pocho’s story with the wider world. He believes in raising awareness of how crocodiles are more than just heartless predators.
Pocho’s story shows that even the most ferocious beasts can respond well to the hand of friendship.
Another unlikely pair of friends is Frikkie Von Solms and Zion the lion. As a lion cub growing up in captivity, Zion was separated from his mother. Frikkie took care of him. As a cub, Frikkie would bottle feed him every 4 hours and even sleep in the same bed.
For 11 years, Frikkie has looked after Zion as if he was his own. The big cat has become a big softie. When Frikkie takes Zion for a walk he takes his shoes off because the noise annoys Zion.
Frikkie explains, “People talk about lions like they are just lions, but they have personalities. They have humor, and laugh. Zion is a gentle giant. He has never attacked humans. I trust him completely.”
What do you think? Are Frikkie and Chito out of their minds or can kindness tame even the wildest beast?