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Tico Tarzan: Costa Rican Man Tames Crocodile; 'I've Never Seen a Show Like This'

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- A dog is usually described as a man's best friend, but in Costa Rica a man has become best mates with a huge 16.5 foot crocodile weighing almost 1,000lbs.

Gilberto Graham has seemingly domesticated the croc, and has even started his own show in which he cavorts with the beast in a swimming pool and gives it commands.

During the performance, Gilberto, known also as the Tico Tarzan, gets up close to the open jaw of the crocodile, and even bites one of the animal's teeth.

An Italian tourist came away from the show shaking his head, saying: "I've never scene a show like this. It's the first time I've seen a person tame a crocodile."

Tico Tarzan said he found the reptile wounded by a bullet five years ago after it had been shot by a farmer who wanted to keep it from eating his cattle.

He claims he cured and fed the crocodile - and little by little he got to know the croc and gained its confidence.

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Reader Comments

27 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I lived in a town 50 Km from the show location. It is really amazing and scary. The crocodile behaves as a pet, very interesting. it is worth to see them. Olman Barboza Costa Rica
   comment# 1   - Olman Barboza · Limón, Costa Rica · Jan 29, 2007 @ 12:02pm

Fascinating! I've never heard of a tame crocodile before. Hopefully the croc doesn't decide to have a taste during a show...
   comment# 2   - Bekah · Henderson, Nevada · Feb 1, 2007 @ 12:01pm

I live in the heart of croc country in Far North Queensland, & when we saw Tico in the major weekend paper we were flabbergasted. Even the man who runs the local croc park (tourist attraction) never ever trusts his crocs in that fashion. At first we thought it had to be a hoax, whoever heard of a tame croc!! I won't be trying it anytime soon with the croc in our creek!
   comment# 3   - oz_tia · Innisfail - North Queensland - Australia · Feb 5, 2007 @ 2:29am

An amazing story. But that crocodile is an American Crocodile. I would like to see that guy try and tame a Saltwater Crocodile!
   comment# 4   - Davo · Sydney, Australia · Feb 7, 2007 @ 11:19am

Been there! Done that! The King of the Crocs resides in Charleston, SC and does all that and more with a much larger saltwater croc. Kissing it, feeding it chicken out of his mouth, playing it's head like bongo drums using voice commands. Croc was trained within 3 weeks after capture in Jun 2001. It's been on Animal Planet and pics can be seen at Pics sent upon request.
   comment# 5   - Roark Ferguson · Charleston, SC · Feb 11, 2007 @ 5:24pm

Compared to Roark Ferguson of Charleston, SC this fellow looks to me like an amateur. Roark is the greatest living crocodile trainer and his legend continues.
   comment# 6   - Dr.Sam Seashloe · Cross, SC US · Feb 22, 2007 @ 2:39am

You should see the Croc that Roark captured and trained... WOW!!! almost 20 feet long and over 2000 lbs. He was the first person to train a Croc and still the only person to train one of this magnitude. i have seen it in person and on the video. you really need to see this one will not believe your eyes.
   comment# 7   - Fe Smith · Summerville, USA · Feb 27, 2007 @ 6:59pm

yeh seriously like to see a little costa rican man jump in with a 15 ft estauring crocodile up the far north
   comment# 8   - dom · melb australia · Mar 2, 2007 @ 4:43pm

Hi Roark, Those pictures look impressive of you and the croc. But that doesn't look like a pure bred Saltwater crocodile. It looks like Utan is a hybrid species of a Siamese and Saltwater crocodile. Can you send me some clear photos of Utan? my email is thanks.
   comment# 9   - Davo · Sydney, Australia · Apr 18, 2007 @ 3:24am

ROARK ROCKS. Funny, he told me his mom named him for Robert Rourk - a great hunter in the days that hunting was popular. Perhaps the 40's or 50's. Was she psychic?? LOL I've seen Roark perform and interact and NOBODY, but NOBODY outdoes him. Hope to see you again, soon!!
   comment# 10   - nancy & Joe · Green Cove Springs, FL USA · May 12, 2007 @ 11:52am

Tico is the 1. Roark is good but not in Ticos class. If salties weren't protected Tico would have them singing in a reptilian chorus line. Go Tico.
   comment# 11   - judy elfin · collier,fl · Nov 12, 2007 @ 1:02pm

Well, Chito(as his friends call him), and Poncho(the crock), are an amazing couple. I have a farm a few miles from them and have the pleasure of calling them friends.It figures that someone would do the n. american thing and try to one-up!!! If you have to boast, we have to wonder!!!!!! pura vida
   comment# 12   - Jim Coulombe · Gainesville, Fl. · Mar 22, 2008 @ 3:56pm

There's no such thing, and can be no such thing, as a "tame crocodile". This "Tico Tarzan" fellow is walking on thin ice.
   comment# 13   - Donald Taylor · Fairfax, VA USA · Mar 27, 2008 @ 6:44am

i have seen my cousin Roark Ferguson working with and loving his animals i promise you this guy has nothing compared to him. All the work Roark has put into educating people (not just playing with them)about crocs and other reptiles is awesome. When your ready to play with the BIG boys come see ROARK
   comment# 14   - Sarah Ferguson · Kenosha, WI USA · May 28, 2008 @ 12:23pm

Is really amazing, I saw the show last Sunday and I am fascinated with that show, I am from Limon and I invite all people of the world that come to see that impressionists event. Regards;
   comment# 15   - Bet, · Limon, Costa Rica · Jun 18, 2008 @ 9:39am

Hi Chito! Thank you for teaching me how to fish. Your show was TUANIS! Take care of you! Pura Vida!!!
   comment# 16   - armando rodriguez sanchez · Alajuela/San Carlos · Jul 3, 2008 @ 6:30pm

I think roark is over rated. If he is so good at training crocs, then Why is it that he only has one trained. I think he just got lucky and found a docile croc. As far as knowing reptiles I dont know. I think he doesnt know anymore than the average herp hunter. I know I can find more animals in the wild than he could. He is also stuck on himself and a bit cocky.
   comment# 17   - mark · Mt. pleasant, South Carolina · Sep 16, 2008 @ 1:53pm

   comment# 18   - ANNIEL LAWSON · CHARLOTTE NORTH CAROLINA · Nov 9, 2008 @ 4:42am

i swim with gators every say been there done that is bullshit,u have a gift from GOD,i take my hat off to u.and u can google my name,u dont have to go to any plant iam under swinning with gators............
   comment# 19   - clemente dimuro · everglades · Dec 1, 2008 @ 6:47pm

O.K. boys, calm nice.... I have seen both of these men and know one of them personally. They are both excellent men and true enviromentalist in regards to wildlife. Who's better?? Grow up!!!
   comment# 20   - Ray · Myrtle Beach S.C./ Jaco, Costa Rica · Jan 1, 2009 @ 8:14pm

its about tiime someone realised how inteligent crocs realy are hats of to him and the very best of luck to you both
   comment# 21   - steven · england · Aug 21, 2009 @ 8:25am

   comment# 22   - WOLVERINE · COSTA RICA · Aug 3, 2010 @ 6:59am

Crocodiles are believed to be 200 million years old so they can't be stupid (we were Neanderthals half a million years ago). Just don't let him get hungry Chito.
   comment# 23   - Phil · South Africa · Aug 19, 2010 @ 8:37am

American crocodile population has reached a critical level. There is a small population of crocodiles, which live in South Florida. However, most of them are located in southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America. Its habitat includes salt water or fresh water in estuaries, mangroves and coastal lagoons.
   comment# 24   - American Crocodile · U S · Oct 28, 2010 @ 12:54am

nossa fiquei emprecionada quando vi a materia no FAUSTÃO é incrivel! parabéns por dar essa confiança para esse lindo animal.realmente sem duvida vc é do bem!! bj
   comment# 25   - lucimeri de araujo · paraty rj brasil · Feb 27, 2011 @ 1:33pm

You are so brave wish I could visit. Maybe I will.
   comment# 26   - Mary Mjllet · LaPlace,Louisiana · Jul 15, 2011 @ 9:33am

Si por que aqui es donde hay personas que de verdad nos atrevemos a todo como a quitarle los maridos a las otra mujeres jajajaja
   comment# 27   - Isabel Lee · San Jose Costa Rica · Feb 19, 2012 @ 11:27am
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