In Siquirres a crowd, including people from as far away as Canada, gathered at a popular restaurant to watch a premier of National Geographic’s latest special, “Touching the Dragon.” Why, because a local hero is the subject of the documentary.
All five TV’s were tuned in to watch Alec Baldwin introduce the story of a human who had an uncommon bond with a crocodile.
The man known as Chito, who trained a crocodile to accept a human companion, sat through the introduction in total silence as he watched on the television show images of his farm and his life.
At the first commercial break there was a huge round of applause.
Chito, whose full name is Gilberto Sheeden, stood up and gave the audience a big bow.
“When I was told that National Geographic was coming, I got a big brush and brushed Pocho’s front teeth so he looked good on camera,” Sheeden said without the faintest clue that it might seem a bit crazy.
As the story unfolded, he said in a voice that held both joy and pain “Remember when I used to do the shows?” and “Now that the government knows I have a movie, they will want more money.”
Even after becoming a worldwide celebrity, Sheeden still acts as the club’s DJ. He ended the night with a song he dedicated to his deceased crocodile friend, Yo tengo su amor or “I got your love” that he sang himself.
Even though the 17-foot crocodile, Pocho, died in 2011, tourists can still visit him at the Centro Turistico Las Tilapias. He is stuffed and displayed on the property. Sheeden is currently working with three new crocodile friends and after a year plans on choosing the most receptive one to continue his training program. He found Poncho when the animal was badly hurt and nursed it back to health. In his show, he jumped into a pond
A video of the show with Poncho is on YouTube HERE! So are videos of the animal’s funeral.