Florida is crawling with people who will let you watch them rassle an alligator if you buy a ticket. Those people have their reward in full. They need not aspire to the title of Feechie of the Week.
Chito is different. Chito, a Costa Rican fisherman, seems genuinely to love his crocodile Pocho. When he found Pocho, the poor croc was injured. Chito nursed him back to health, feeding him chickens and giving him medicine. (That’s the part I wonder about: how exactly does one administer medicine to a crocodile?) And then, as you might expect, he started training his crocodile to do tricks. Not for money, but to entertain his friends.

Which is to say, Chito’s career as a performer began with perhaps the greatest of all feechie utterances: “Hey, yall–watch this!” Later, his friends suggested that he start charging tourists to watch him and Pocho do their tricks. And why shouldn’t he? Good on him is what I say.

‘This is a very dangerous routine,” says Chito.  “But Pocho is my friend and we have a good relationship.” A relationship, he says. With a crocodile. I’m telling you, the man is a feechie.

Here’s a little movie about Chito and Pocho. The best moment is at about 30 seconds, when Chito wears his crocodile for a hat.

Thanks to faithful readers Marie and Joe for nominating Chito for this honor.

  • Aaron Roughton
    2:01 PM, 30 September 2010

    “…Pocho has returned the favor and helped him, providing a living…and devouring intruders.” Wow. Only 17 feet? Wow. That’s all I can say.

  • Chad Ethridge
    5:15 PM, 30 September 2010

    My pastor likes to use stuff like this as an illustration for how we can allow abnormal behaviors to become routine. One day you wake up to find you are not the alligator’s friend, but rather his lunch! Friends don’t let friends swim with alligators.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      6:46 PM, 30 September 2010

      Well, if that’s how your preacher talks, Chad, he may never be Feechie of the Week.

  • EmmaJ
    4:22 PM, 1 October 2010

    Jonathan, I happened upon this story on MSNBC (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/39455178#39400738) and immediately thought it would be of interest to you. Someone else beat me to it, but I third that nomination. I, too, enjoyed the part of the routine in which Chito wears his friend as a hat.
    As for the future… I do hope for Chito’s sake that this is the only time he ever has reason to make it into the news. A girl can hope.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      4:30 PM, 1 October 2010

      I’m with you, EmmaJ. I hope Chito has a long and happy life and entertains tourists for decades to come…but it’s hard to trust Pocho’s satisfied smile. Chito puts me in mind of Grizzly Man, the amazing documentary by Werner Herzog about the guy who went to live among (and was eaten by) grizzly bears in Alaska.

  • EmmaJ
    5:56 AM, 3 October 2010

    Oh yeah, I heard about that man-befriends-bears-and-meets-bad-end film. My dad and sister went to see it together and then shared the horrifying unbelievability with the rest of us. Argh. How awful.
    I actually stopped on by to share another gem of Georgia glory which I happened upon, which may or may not contain activity of interest to your scientific investigation. This American Life just did an episode called Georgia Rambler (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/sites/all/play_music/play_full.php?play=413 ). I really like the concept, but that is beside the point here. The point is that this was interesting. And that it’s about rural Georgia. (Disclaimer: there is a moment of inappropriate content around the 15:30 mark. Anyone who wants to avoid it can skip ahead as soon as the guy starts talking about smoking a cigarette while swimming. Crass comment occurs a moment or two later.)

  • Jonathan Rogers
    11:21 PM, 6 October 2010

    EmmaJ, that is so fantastic. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I think we might have Audience Participation Friday figured out.

  • js
    12:27 AM, 8 October 2010

    Kah-razee…I didn’t know that a crocodile’s tail looks kind of like a big bird’s wing. (see photo above).. I would like to see their performance, although instead of grizzlies, it makes me think of the poor Sea World trainer that was eaten by Shamoo recently. In the future, if we read that Chito was eaten by his crocodile friend, I think the moral of the story will be..don’t start feeding injured crocodiles, because they may eat you one day.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    12:46 AM, 8 October 2010

    Or to put it another way, JS, there’s more than one way to feed a crocodile. So, JS, who’s the most unforgettable person in your hometown? Elvis doesn’t count.

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