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Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja: The Real Story of a Man Who Was Raised Among Wolves

Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja

Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja

Marco Rodríguez Pantoja was born in Añora, Spain. He was six when his father sold him to a local farmer. This man took Pantoja to the Sierra Morena mountains to work for an aging man who was a goat herder. Before this, Pantoja suffered severe beatings from his stepmother. This experience made him prefer solitude to human company.

He made no attempt to leave the place in the mountains located so far away from society. Unfortunately, the old man goat herder died two years after he arrived and Pantoja was left alone to survive in the mountains.

Survival

Before his death, the goat herder taught Pantoja many things about gathering food. It was enough for the young child to not go hungry. The old man had taught him how to make traps for partridges and rabbits with stick and leaves. He claims the animals also guided him to what he should eat. Pantoja would eat what he saw them eat. Wild boars would dig up soil to find the tubers that were buried. After the wild boars had dug them up, Pantoja would throw stones at them, so they would run away. He would then take the tubers. He said he began to have special bonds with some of the animals living around his mountain home.

Scene from movie Among Wolves

Scene from movie Among Wolves

Wolf Encounter

Pantoja says one day he was exploring the mountains and went into a cave. There he discovered a wolf cub. He began playing with the wolf cub and soon fell asleep. He woke up when the mother wolf brought food for the cubs. When she first saw him, the female growled and looked fierce. She gave some meat to a cub and Pantoja was going to steal the meat because he was hungry. The mother pawed at him and bared her teeth. He backed off. Once the pups were fed, she took a piece of meat in her mouth and brought it to him. Pantoja was afraid if he took the meat, the mother wolf would attack him. She then pushed it toward him with her nose, so he ate it. He was still scared. The mother wolf eventually went over to him and licked him a few times. This made him feel as if he was now a member of the family.

Other Animal Companions

According to Pantoja, he had a snake that lived with him in part of a cave that was also an abandoned mine. He claims to have made a nest for her and also gave her milk from goats. Pantoja says the snake followed him many places and did protect him. He says during this time, he was only lonely when he was unable to hear the animals in the mountain. When this happened, Pantoja would imitate their calls. He can make remarkable sounds of a booted eagle, deer, fox, and other animals. Pantoja says once the animals answered back; he could sleep. He then knew his friends had not abandoned him.

Back to Society

Pantoja's life among the animals began in 1953. He was spotted by the Spanish Civil Guards in 1965. At this time, he had spent twelve years not having any contact with human beings. His companions had been only wolves and other animals. Pantoja was taken by force by the Civil Guards. They bound him and gagged him as he howled like a wolf. He could only communicate with the Spanish Civil Guard using grunts. When he was taken to his father, Pantoja's father only wanted to know what happened to the jacket he had when he left their home.

Learning How to Live in Modern Society

There was a hospital nearby where the Civil Guards had captured Pantoja. It was run by nuns and a priest. They worked with Pantoja and taught him how to walk upright, eat with cutlery, dress as well as use proper speech. Everything was traumatic for him. During his first haircut, he was afraid the barber would cut his throat with the razor. He constantly fought with the nuns who tried to force him to sleep in a bed. The nuns would also place a piece of wood on his back to help him walk straight. His back was crooked from not standing straight and walking in the mountains. Pantoja also had to spend some time in a wheelchair. He struggled to walk once all the calluses were cut from his feet.

He was then sent to Madrid and lived at the Hospital de Convalecientes of the Vallejo Foundation. Here Pantoja was taught how to function as an adult in modern society. He was then sent to the Spanish island of Mallorca. He lived at a hostel and paid his way by doing work there.

Adaptation Struggles

Pantoja eventually was able to function in society. He served in the Spanish military for awhile. He then worked for a pastor and dedicated himself to working in the hospitality and construction industry. It was not easy for him. Pantoja often lost his money and struggled because he was an easy victim of many deceptions and scams. He struggled with comprehending finances and in many ways, he has always struggled with modern culture. Pantoja's years of being completely isolated from humans made things difficult for him.

Rejection in the Mountains

Pantoja's depression with the human world made him want to try to return to his former home in the mountains. He was going to try to reintegrate himself with the canine family he knew. Pantoja soon discovered he looked very different to the wolves. He was also no longer a boy and had the smell of someone who was living among humans. The wolves refused to go near him. He tried to call out to them, and they responded, but they did not approach him. The place on the mountain where he had once foraged and slept now had new cottages. The wild of the mountain was quickly disappearing.

Movie Poster for "Among Wolves"

Movie Poster for "Among Wolves"

Media Attention

A movie based on Pantoja's life was released in 2010. It was called Among Wolves. He has been interviewed by many television programs as well as newspapers and magazines. Pantoja is also often invited to speak at city councils, diverse organizations as well as different associations and more. Many people want to hear his story.

Anthropologist Janer Manila

Anthropologist Janer Manila

Story Confirmed

Janer Manila is an anthropologist at the University of the Balearic Islands. He spent over a year writing a thesis on Pantoja's life experiences. It was later turned into a book that was published in 1982 called Marcos, Wild Child of the Sierra Morena. Manila went to places mentioned by Pantoja. He also spoke with people who treated him once he was found. Everything discovered by Manila confirmed what Pantoja had told him about his life was true.

Today, Pantoja is in his 70s and lives in Spain in the Ourense village of Rante. Pantoja likes to play the organ and take walks. He still does his animal calls including howls of wolves. Pantoja remains suspicious of the human race. He experienced deceit, abuse, and mistreatment upon his return to society. Pantoja happily lives on a non-contributory pension and receives kindness from the many people who offer it to him. He still enjoys going to schools and sharing his life story with children.

Sources

© 2020 Readmikenow

Comments

Readmikenow (author) on September 01, 2020:

Flourish, thanks. I agree with you.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 31, 2020:

People can be terrible. The charity and goodness of the animals he lived with is inspiring.

Readmikenow (author) on August 24, 2020:

Alan, thanks. That is very true.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 24, 2020:

Reminds me of the Kevin Costner film, "Dances With Wolves" that ends with him being dragged away from his hut in chains by US cavalrymen, and one of his wolf 'friends' being shot by them.

People can be b******s, but then we inhabit parallel worlds with animals that have their own codes of conduct.

Readmikenow (author) on August 24, 2020:

Fran, thanks. You make a valid point.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on August 24, 2020:

Very, very interesting. It seems he learned how to survive for so long and then others insisted he learns to be like them. Who says what is the best way? Loved the article.

Readmikenow (author) on August 24, 2020:

Umesh, thanks.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 24, 2020:

Amazing details. Captivating.

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