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The Boy Who Grew Up With Wolves

There are several stories about children who have grown up with animals in the wild. They are called "feral children". And one of those feral children is Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja, a Spanish man who lived with wolves for twelve years. That sounds very hard to believe, right? But it's true nonetheless. Let's dive into Marcos' interesting story together!



When he was about six or seven, his father left Marcos to a farmer who took him to the Sierra Morena mountains to help a goatherd. But unfortunately, the goatherd died soon after his arrival. Marcos was all alone in the mountains and did not want to go back home since his stepmother had been abusing him. So, he used what he had learned from the goatherd to gather food and also observed what the animals ate to figure out what was edible.


One day, Marcos found a cave and saw that there were wolf cubs in there. So he went in to play with them. After some time, he fell asleep. When he woke up, he saw that the mother wolf had returned to feed her cubs with some meat she'd found. Marcos was also very hungry, therefore he tried to take the meat for himself but the mother wolf growled and pawed at him. But what's interesting is that after her cubs had been fed, the mother wolf gave Marcos the leftover meat. Marcos was afraid that she would attack him if he tried to eat the meat again so he didn't take it at first. But the mother wolf, as if she were insisting he ate the meat, pushed the meat towards him with her nose and then went to lick him as if he was her cub. That's how Marcos became a member of the wolf pack.


Marcos interestingly also had a snake "friend" in the cave. He would feed it with the milk he would get from the goats and the snake stuck around.


Marcos spent twelve years in the wild with wolves and other animals. But after these twelve years, when he was nineteen, the Spanish police found him. They took him to Fuencaliente, a small village near the mountains, and brought his father to confirm his identity. But his father's reaction, or lack thereof, at seeing his son again after all those years was most shocking to me. He only asked him where the jacket he was wearing the last day they were together was.

It was very challenging for Marcos to adapt to society. After twelve long years, he had gotten used to the ways of wolves and forgotten how humans lived. He didn't know how to speak, how to walk straight, how to sleep in a bed, how to eat with cutlery... But despite all the hardships, he learned how to live as a human again. In fact, he currently lives in Rante, a small village in Spain.





Gabriel Janer Manila, a Spanish author and anthropologist, researched Marcos' story after hearing about it from Marcos himself. He couldn't believe him at first. So, he went to the places and talked with the people Marcos had mentioned. And at last, he concluded that his story was all real. Janer Manila even published a book about Marcos' life, making it widely known. And then in 2010, "Entrelobos" ("Among Wolves"), a documentary whose subject was Marcos' life, premiered.



And that's Marcos', a "feral child"s, story. In my opinion, it's not only interesting because it tells an unbelievable story of a boy who lived with wolves, but also because it is a story that shows us the tragic turns and the miracles of life. I think it is also a reason to research the possibility of humans living with other animals and the similarities between wolves and humans. But that's a subject for another day!


References:



Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja: Did this man live with wolves? - BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25102983

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