When Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja was seven years old, his father sold him into slavery.
Marcos was given to an elderly shepherd who lived on a remote mountain. Marcos’s new job was to take care of a herd of 300 goats. He slept under the stars and tried to ignore the worrying sounds of wild boars and wolves. One day the shepherd disappeared and never returned.
Left to his own devices Marcos fought to survive. He caught rabbits and fished for trout. When a storm came, he found a shelter in a cave. Inside the cave, he found a den of wolf pups. He didn’t see the wolves as a threat and laid down to sleep.
When the mother wolf returned, she growled at him. Marcos feared the wolf would tear him to pieces. Instead, she gave him a piece of meat.
For the next 15 years, Marcos lived with the wolves who protected and sheltered him. He also insists he talked to them.
In 1965, police spotted a strange man with long hair roaming the mountains. They chased the man dressed in nothing but a deerskin. They captured him, tied his hands, and dragged him off the hillside.
Marcos was taken to a convent in Madrid. The nuns did their best to reintroduce Marcos to society but they had their work cut out for them. He had lost the use of language and the human world was an alien environment.
He was confused by his reflection in the mirror. He was terrified when he watched a cowboy movie. He thought the cowboys would run out of the screen and trample him. And when he first heard voices on the radio, he thought there were people inside who were trapped and calling for help.
Civilization left a bad taste in Marcos’s mouth. He didn’t feel comfortable being around humans.
In those early years, Marcos would try to run back to the mountains whenever he could. Over the next five decades, he roamed Spain working odd jobs. People exploited him because he was different.
Today Marcos lives in a small town. He is retired and enjoys roaming the countryside. He still finds it hard to relate to humans.
He remembers the time living with wolves as a better and happier life. Marcos said he communicated with the wolves by howling. Marcos explained, “When a person talks, they might say one thing but mean another. Animals don’t do that.”
Wolf behavior specialist José España thinks Marcos was tolerated by the pack because he posed no threat. He believes Marcos was desperate for social acceptance. He thinks Marcos imagined relationships with wild animals that didn’t exist.
Whatever the truth may be, Marcos says his time with the wolves was a glorious chapter in his life.