LAST UPDATED: 17 February 2017
Crocodiles aren't exactly cute and fluffy but, as you'll see in this incredible video, maybe they just need a chance to win you over. This is the story of Chito and Pocho, and the unexpected rewards of an act of kindness.
Nearly 20 years ago, a five-metre-long crocodile lay severely injured on the bank of the Parasmina River in Costa Rica after being shot by a farmer. Lucky for that crocodile, a kind local named Chito couldn't bear to let him die. Chito rescued Pocho, as he called the croc, and nursed him back to health.
"I just wanted him to feel that someone loved him, that not all humans are bad", Chito told The Tico Times. "I love all animals, especially ones that have suffered."
When Pocho the crocodile had regained his strength, Chito took him back along the river to release him. But Pocho didn't want to be left behind, and followed Chito home! With permission from the Minister for Environment and the help of a vet, Chito looked after Pocho for nearly two decades.
As their bond strengthened over the years, Chito and Pocho grew to trust each other so completely that they spent hours each day swimming and playing together. Remarkably, Pocho the crocodile was gentle and patient with his human companion and would even respond to his name when called. Thousands of tourists, scientists and animal behaviour experts came to see Chito and Pocho having fun.
After many years of friendship, Pocho the crocodile died of natural causes last year at the age of 50. Hundreds of people attended his funeral. Chito was naturally devastated by Pocho's death, but continues to share his friend's story to raise awareness about just how special crocodiles are.
Animals like Pocho the crocodile need your help!
The story of Chito and Pocho shows that even crocodiles can appreciate an act of kindness. But you don't have to befriend a crocodile to make a difference to countless other animals who deserve our compassion, too. Discover how you can help create a kinder world for animals with simple everyday choices.