Abandonment, precariousness and loneliness: the moving story of the man who spent his childhood raised by wolves
“I felt like a happy man because I had everything I wanted, I didn’t know anything else,” said Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja in dialogue with the BBC in 2018, speaking of his experience after living 12 years with a pack of wolves. The man, who is now 75 years old, confirmed before the eyes of the world that every life can be a big open book.
It was 2018, Marcos smiled in front of the camera, with slanted eyes and great happiness. The cap he was wearing had an inscription where you could read Between Wolfs.
Between Wolfs It is a film by Gerardo Olivares, released in 2010 and, it is worth clarifying, that it is not a reversal of Tarzan. The fiction narrates the experiences of a boy who for 12 years was raised by wild animals. This is the biography of Marcos, the Spaniard who lived in a herd, learned to hunt and survive in Sierra Morena, the mountain range in southern Spain.
Marcos’ life was crossed by losses: when he was three years old his mother died during the birth of her eighth child. From that moment, the mother figure was in charge of a partner of his father, who exercised violence towards him and his seven little brothers. After fulfilling the seven took him away from his family: his father sold it to a rural worker.
The future, at his young age, promised him a country life surrounded by animals and guaranteed food, as long as he did his job. Everything seemed to be going well until, suddenly, his boss died.
Marcos was left alone surrounded by staggered hills and lots of nature, in the Sierra Morena area. There were few days when he remained in the same place. He had to learn what survival is, without human help and with the few learnings he acquired while he was employed.
“To eat I was guided by the bugs. What they ate I ate. The wild boars ate some potatoes that were buried and they find them because they smell them. When they were going to dig them up, I threw a stone at them, they ran away and then I stole the potatoes”, detailed the man in dialogue with the BBC.
At that moment, he understood what the strategy to survive would be. close relationship with animals that inhabited the territory, including: wolves, deer, snakes and bats. His short experience with humans had led him to live between mistreatment, abandonment and hunger, but his new bet was to escape from the past. He learned to live as a seven-year-old is not expected to, and that continued until he was 19.
The caves became his refuge, he shared the habitat with the wildest animals and this led him to face his greatest fears.
“One day I got into a wolf to play with some puppies that lived there and I fell asleep. When I woke up, the she-wolf was cutting deer meat for the cubs. I tried to take a piece from him, because he was also hungry and he clawed at me”, Marcos recalled about how he managed to overcome his fears.
The so-called animal instinct of that mother wolf was combined with the need that a child was going through completely alone: “When she finished feeding her cubs, she looked at me and threw a piece of meat at me.. I didn’t want to touch it because I thought it was going to attack me, but it was approaching me with its snout. I took it, ate it, and she came up to me. I thought he was going to bite me, but he stuck his tongue out and started licking me. After that, he was already one of the family. we went everywhere together”.
Once accepted as part of the herd, little by little his human behaviors were forgotten. The words were replaced by howls and various sounds and moving upright on all fours began to be his usual posture. When his adaptation was complete, the human being broke into his hunting days to rescue him.
“I felt like a happy man because I had everything I wanted, I didn’t know anything else. I felt lonely when I didn’t feel the bugs, because at night there is always a bug that sings “, he synthesized, when speaking of the moment in which the Spanish Civil Guard found him.
It was 1965 and Marcos was already 19 years old. In the middle of a search of the land by the Spanish Civil Guard, they found a teenager who was moving with a pack of wolves, like one of them. Amid great resistance, he was caught and transferred back to social life with humans..
In the first place, “the savage” was assisted by nuns from Madrid, who were in charge of guiding him to his social integration. The noises of the city, communication, clothing, walking and looking for a profession were the pillars at that time for him to know what his life was going to be like from that moment on. While, Marcos only thought of going back to the mountain. His world, as he knew it, had ceased to exist for him.
With his discovery, the authorities traced his origins and verified that as a child he had been sold by his father. When they managed to find the man, they took him in front of Marcos. “When I saw it I didn’t feel anything at all. The only thing he asked me when he saw me was ‘where is your jacket?’, as if I could still wear the same clothes I had when I left”, he recalled about that moment.
Since then, he began to have the life of a 19-year-old. He settled in the city and looked for how to survive in the capitalist world. He got a job in the hotel and masonry area and this allowed him to travel to many places in Spain. But nevertheless, Luck turned against him again because through deceit and scams by strangers, he was left on the street..
His ability to get food in the bush had become more complicated in the world in society. Despite this, that gesture that a she-wolf had when seeing him hungry was repeated by a retired police officer who helped him rebuild his new life. His story of abandonment led him to be called “the wolf boy” and he became known all over the world.. Among his many stories there are anecdotes with snakes and other animals of the mountain.
Currently, Marcos lives in the city of Rante, a town that belongs to the region of Galicia. He receives a state pension and gives talks about his experience. His days go by between meetings with friends, his collaboration in a local bar and his new hobby: playing the piano at home. The house is not just any place, but has become a true sanctuary of his past life: clippings from different newspapers of the day he was found by the Civil Guard can be found on its walls and, of course, photos with animals are not lacking.