Meet Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja, a real-life Mowgli. At the age of six or seven, he was sold by his father to a man who took him to help out a goat herder in the Sierra Moreno mountains. After the old man died, the young boy remained by himself — frightened to return home, should he have to endure more beatings by his stepmother.
For approximately twelve years, Pantoja lived in solitude with only wolves, goats, snakes, and other animals for company. The small amount of knowledge he gained from the goat herder enabled him to hunt rabbits and partridges with traps made of sticks and leaves. Though few may believe it, Pantoja also claims he had the support of the animals.
“The animals guided me as to what to eat. Whatever they ate, I ate,” said Pantoja. “The wild boars ate tubers buried under the soil. They found them because they smelled them. When they were digging the soil looking for them, I threw a stone at them – they would run away and then I would steal the tubers.”
Finally, when he was about 19-years-old, Pantoja re-entered civilization after being “rescued” by the Spanish Civil Guard. Only recently, at the age of 72, did he agree to talk about his experiences integrating back into human society. Essentially, Pantoja was happier living amongst the wolves and is less than enthused with the modern world.
During the interview with El País, Pantoja said that he has been exploited by bosses in the hospitality and construction industries more than once. He has also been mistreated in his life outside of work. A personal struggle has been accepting the emotional coldness of the human world. “They laugh at me because I don’t know about politics or soccer,” he recently told the newspaper,” said Pantoja.
After awakening to his disillusion with the modern world, Pantoja decided to return to the wild. Unfortunately, the wolves he had once considered family no longer accepted him. “It is not what it used to be,” he said. Fortunately, it’s not all gloom and doom. Pantoja has many human friends. Additionally, the environmental group Amigos das Arbores is helping him purchase insulation for his house.
Watch the video below to learn more:
According to Gabriel Janer Manila, an anthropologist who wrote his thesis on Marcos, large parts of Pantoja’s account have been confirmed. However, other aspects of his testimony need to be “carefully interpreted.” “Marcos does not tell us what happened, but what he believes happened,” Manila told BBC News in 2013. “But that’s what we all do – to present our take on the facts.”
“When Marcos sees a snake and gives her milk, and then the snake comes back, he says she’s his friend. The snake is not his ‘friend’. She is following him because he gives her milk. He says ‘she protects me’ because that is what he believes has happened,” Manila added.
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