The famed vegetarian crocodile named Babiya, living at the Ananthapura Lake Temple, recently passed away in Kerala’s Kasaragod district. Several news organizations reported the news carrying a picture of a man resting his head against a crocodile. It is being claimed that this is a photograph of the recently deceased crocodile Babiya, guardian of the Ananthapura Lake Temple.

A number of media outlets including Republic, Good News Today, Economic Times, Pune Mirror, NDTV, Dainik Bhaskar, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand, News18, ABP News, Navbharat Times, Zee Malayalam, ABN Telugu, Samayam Telugu, Newsroom Post, and Sambad English shared the same image in their coverage of the incident.

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Fact-check

Alt News performed a reverse image search and found the source photo in a Times of India article from 2017. In this report also, the crocodile seen in the viral picture has been identified as Babiya from the Ananthapura Lake Temple. However, in the article’s comments section, a user mentioned that the photo of the man with the crocodile is not from Kerala, but from Costa Rica. Along with this, the user also added that the name of the man and the crocodile seen in the picture is Chito and Pocho.

Using this information, we performed a keyword search on YouTube. This led us to a related video uploaded on YouTube on May 16, 2019. In this video, footage resembling the viral image appears at the 20:56 mark. In fact, this is the screengrab being circulated as a photo of Babiya the crocodile living at the Ananthapura Lake Temple in Kerala. Evidently, the viral picture is not from Kerala but from Costa Rica, a country located in the Caribbean region of Central America.

For more information, we performed keyword searches related to Chito and Pocho. Alt News found that Chito’s full name is Gilberto Shedden alias Chito. American media outlet National Public Radio (NPR)’s website contains a transcript of Gilberto Shedden’s (Chito’s) interview in which he discusses Pocho the crocodile. According to a report by Costa Rican media outlet ‘The Tico Times’, Pocho died back in October 2011.

Two documentaries based on Chito and Pocho’s friendship were released in 2013 and 2014, titled ‘Touching the Dragon‘ and ‘Dragon Feast‘ respectively.

As Poncho died in 2011, Alt News can confirm that the viral image cannot possibly be of the crocodile living at a temple in Kerala. In fact, this photograph is at least 11 years old.

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About the Author

Abhishek is a journalist at Alt News.