A man who was raised by wolves in a cave for 12 years has admitted that he feels disappointed with human life.
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja was dubbed the Mowgli of Spain when he was found by authorities. But the former wolf boy says he struggles with the coldness of the human world and wishes he could go back to living with the animals. He told the BBC: “I didn’t know where to go – I just wanted to escape to the mountains.”
Rodríguez was 19 when he was discovered living in Spain’s Sierra Morena mountain range.
He had been living among wolves for 12 years and was found running around barefoot and half-naked – only using grunts for communication.
But the now 72-year-old lives in a small, cold house and said his last happy memories are of his childhood with the animals, El Pais reports.
Rodríguez found himself living with the wolves when he was left without parents. His mother passed away when he was three and his dad went to live with another woman.
They took him to the mountains to replace a goatherd who looked after 300 animals – but while he was taught how to make a fire and utensils, the man disappeared or died leaving seven-year-old Rodríguez alone.
The mountain’s animals were his only company and just like in the Jungle Book story, the wolf cubs accepted him as a brother. A she-wolf fed him and he slept in a cave alongside bats, snakes and deer. The wolves even taught him how to survive and which berries and mushrooms were safe to eat.
He said: “One day I went into a cave and started to play with wolf cubs that lived here and fell asleep. Later, the mother brought food for them and I woke up,” the BBC reports. The wolf started to rip the meat apart. A cub got close to me and I tried to steal his food because I was hungry as well. The mother pawed at me. I backed off.”
But he says after feeding her pups she threw him a piece of meat. He said: “I didn’t want to touch it because I thought she was going to attack me, but she was pushing the meat with her nose. I took it, ate it, and thought she was going to bite me, but she put her tongue out, and started to lick me. After that I was one of the family.”
But after Rodríguez was found by the Civil Guard and brought into the human world, he says his life has fallen apart. He says he has been cheated, abused and exploited in the working world and has never truly been able to integrate with other humans.
He also feels people laugh at him because he does not know much about politics or football or the modern world. He said: “I think they laugh at me because I don’t know about politics or soccer.” And while he has tried to return to the mountains he says it is not what it used to be and the wolves do not recognise him.
Speaking to El Pais he said: “There are wolves and if I call out to them they are going to respond, but they are not going to approach me. “I smell like people, I wear cologne.” In 2010 a film ‘Among Wolves’ was released based on Rodríguez’s life and many studies have been carried out on him.
He even says he can still mimic the sounds of the deer, fox and eagles – as well as other animals. But he says although he had to get used to eating with cutlery and sleeping in a bed one of the most disturbing things to him was the hustle and bustle of community life.
He said: “I could not cope with so much noise, the cars, and people going back and forwards like ants. But at least ants all go in the same direction. People went everywhere. I was scared of crossing the road.” He now lives in a small house, with cave-like low ceilings which is packed with memorabilia and drawings. He also has a patio full of plants and flowers to help him feel as if he is in the wild.
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This article by Ryan Fahey was first published by The Mirror on 16 August 2023. Lead Image: Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain.