Wednesday, April 11, 2007


One of the things that my wife and I found most suprising during our trip to Costa Rica was people establishing relationships with reptiles. We just never thought this possible.

The top picture on this post is one which appeared on the front page of the March 30th edition of THE TICO TIMES, Costa Rica's English language newspaper. The photo shows Gilberto Sheedan and his one-eyed crocodile friend, Poncho. Gilberto had found Poncho near death, lying on a riverbank after having been shot in the eye by an unknown person. Sheedan took the croc back to his ranch and nursed it back to health and a special bond was created. Both man and croc are about 50 years old. Now, every Sunday afternoon, about 4PM, Gilberto jumps into a 100 square meter artificial lake he constructed for Poncho, and calls quietly for his companion. When Poncho appears he is given some simple commands in Spanish slang and the crocodile performs. He does many tricks, and when Sheedan feels that Poncho is in a very good mood he even puts his head into the reptiles mouth. The tourists love it!

The lower picture is one my wife shot. One day we were walking around the grounds of the resort we were staying at in Tortuguero, looking for birds, when we saw a woman standing near a boat landing, looking out on the water and calling out, "Dosty, Dosty!" We asked if a child or dog was missing. She informed us that she was calling her pet caiman. She said that the resort frequently serves chicken. When all the guests are fed and chicken is set aside for the staff, anything left over is fed to their caiman. He has begun to associate hearing the name he was given with getting a good meal, and he comes to eat. After the lady called "Dosty, Dosty!" a few more times, sure enough, around the bend in the canal he came, and my wife shot the picture. Dosty is about 5 feet long. Poncho is obviously much larger.



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