Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Raising Sancho

Spoiler Alert.

I just watched a Wild Kingdom episode that made me bawl like a baby. It's all at the link.

Excuse me while I fetch another tissue.

Okay, I'm back.

I often find myself surprised by the depth of feeling I have for something, once it bubbles up. And every now and then something wiggles its way beneath the obliviousness and leaves me reeling.

And this one episode of fricking Wild Kingdom was one of those things. Carolina Vargas, a veterinarian in the Pantanal wetlands region of southwest Brazil studies giant otters. A group of fishermen found an abandoned giant otter cub and left it with her for rehabilitation. She named him Sancho, and hoped one day to release him back into the wild. The show followed Sancho's babyhood and progression to adulthood. Vargas bottle fed Sancho at first, and taught him to swim, and later on, even how to catch his own fish -- all the while painfully aware that success would mean the breaking of their powerful bond.

I think, had there simply been a pat ending with the formality of a bittersweet ceremonial release back into the wild, I would have been fine. But it didn't happen that way. Vargas gradually lengthened their separations until she was leaving Sancho in the water during the day and returning him to his den at night.

Until one day, he was simply gone. At nine months of age, he was of the age where some cubs will sometimes leave their families, though many will stay up to two years. Three months later, even after looking for him, she still didn't know what had happened to him. Had he gone to make his own way in the world, or had something darker happened?

So of course, this whole thing had me roped and tied and dipping deeply into my stash of Puffs with Lotion.

These events changed Vargas' life; and as the narrator noted, Sancho's departure -- both the manner and the fact of it -- left a "huge hole" in her life. The viewer could feel the pain radiating from her. But I wasn't sure why I was identifying with it so deeply till reading this post over at Under the Ponderosas nudged me in the right direction.

Separation. It happens. Whether or not you're ready, and in a manner that may or may not leave you any comfort. It's cruel, it's necessary, and it's tragically beautiful.

Update: Wow. Judging from the number of folks digging into the second page of the google rankings to get here, I'm not alone. I realize leaving a comment on a stranger's blog may seem odd, but do feel free to tell me why Raising Sancho resonated with you. Was it the loveliness of the Pantanal region? The dedication of Carolina Vargas? The uncertainty of Sancho's destiny? Were you struck, like me, by Sancho's intelligence and the depth of his interaction with Carolina?
All of the above? It's nice to know I'm not alone in being affected by this, but I'd love to hear others' thoughts. You can also drop a link to anything you've written about it.

Updated again: Be sure to read through the comments. Carolina Vargas has left a very informative comment toward the end, as well as some comments on the other Sancho-related posts. Other posts here, and here.)


Kristy said...

Wild Kingdom? As in Marlin Perkins? Okay, clearly the show has a new incarnation, because ol' Marlin never brought me to transendental heights. Must go now, check out T.V. listings...

Trailhead said...

It's on Animal Planet.

Some guy from New York said...

Came across your page just searching on the net to see if there's any kind of update as to whether Carolina ever came across Sancho sometime after the filming and presentation of the program (which can sometimes take many months). I've never been so touched by a nature program! And I love nature programs, but this one had such depth and emotion. Carolina WAS Sancho's mother basically in every way other than having given birth to him. After seeing their interaction and Sancho's closeness and love for his mother it was extremely difficult to have such an unanswered ending as to what happened to him. Even seeing him cry when she left him alone was so heartwrenching. Sadly, I feel the worst happened otherwise I think she would've happened upon him while searching, and that feeling is terrible. I find it really intriguing that I feel so deeply touched by this... I mean... it's a television program about someone else and a wild otter right?? But no, I can't explain it but it was more than that. There was something magical there. Anyway, I truly hope Sancho did simply decide it was his time to go back to the wild. We can only hope that one day Carolina sees him again.

Trailhead said...

Hi Some Guy, and thanks for commenting.

I was really, really surprised at Sancho's ability to engage with Carolina and the depth of his intelligence. I think that contributed to the impact. I think humans and animals can have deep bonds, but this one was far beyond the usual, wasn't it? And I think the show itself did an amazing job of showing that.

I find myself wondering what Vargas is doing now, whether she continues to study otters, etc. But she doesn't seem to have much of a presence on the web -- or I'm just a terrible googler, which is entirely possible.

Anonymous said...

Where's Sancho? I hope Carolina will eventually enlighten Wild Kingdom viewers on what she really thought his fate was after she searched for him (and I'm sure she did a lot more searching than they showed on the documentary). As for me, I'm heartbroken and so taken aback by the sudden turn of events ... what an terrible ending (or maybe not?) for such a loving, faithful, playful, sweet, smart otter. And what a heartache for Carolina. My husband has been trying to convince me Sancho found a girlfriend hoping to quell my mood ... until then, thanks for letting me share your Kleenex ...Linda

Trailhead said...

Linda, I'm with you. I keep hoping to hear more about what Carolina did after he disappeared. I wish she'd write a book or an article or something.

I keep trying to hope for the girlfriend angle as well. My rationale is that he was playing with that otter couple before he left, and so perhaps he realized his own essential Otterness and found a gal to share his life with.

Sure would be nice if he would introduce his otter pups to Carolina and the rest of us, though!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I were in a hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska, and happened to tune in... An hour later we were both crying. My wife woke up thinking about Sancho so now we're home and I'm online trying to find out if she ever found him. We lost a kitty once while we were away and I think that was the chord it struck. Great show -- and a reminder than not everything works out nice and neat like most things on television.

FYI: I saw by her sketches the date 10/5/02 which I took to mean this was May of 2002. I hope time's healed all wounds.

Trailhead said...

I noticed those dates too, Anon.

Ouch -- losing your cat while away, then seeing this in a hotel room. Double whammy.

And you're right -- so often we expect these Animal Planet episodes to be uplifting. And here's one in which the outcome is uncertain, and even the best possible outcome -- that Sancho simply grew up and went away -- is still incredibly sad.

drivinglaughingcrying said...

I was very touched by this episode and I see alot of animal stories and sitations all the time because of my work. I definitely expected her to evenuatlly find Sancho. Plus I love watching otters, they are so playful and cute! I console myself by saying that he must have found a mate- we can only hope!

Trailhead said...

drivinglaughingcrying - I agree. Otters are hilarious -- and that's something I wasn't really aware of till now. If you're still around, I'd love to hear what kind of work you do that you are privy to so many animal stories.

Anonymous said...

I am extremely upset after seeing this show!!!!!!! What has happened to Sancho? I am worried sick! Now I am depressed! Jayne

Bethany said...

Came across your page after desperately searching google after getting out of bed at 1 am, with tears streaming down my face while trying to find out what happened to Sancho. At first all I got were episode summaries and I found myself wondering, "Doesn't anyone care about what happened to him?!" And then I found your page which made me feel a whole lot better... but I'm still a wreck.

I think a big part of what got to me was after finding out about the unknown fate of Sancho--was thinking back to the scene where they were swimming together in the river and Carolina said something to the tune of, "He always comes back to me to make sure I'm still there, I'm still with him, like he's just checking." The fact that he did that, the fact that she realized that he was doing that... ahh, it's heartwrenching.

And if he did meet a darker fate, which is something I can't stop obsessing over, the thought of him crying out for his "mother", and her not being there... I can't think of it.

And thinking of her regret for leaving him on that day at that certain time... it just is really killing me.

Can someone please write to me and comfort my pessimistic feelings about this.

Anonymous said...

Well if you take a wild animal and raise it and then expect it to survive in the wild, that is sort of naive! They should have just taken it in as a pet or put it in a zoo and it would still be alive! This is a case of where *doing the right thing* actually killed the poor animal! But in the end money for her grant won out. She had to follow a plan and if she had saved Sancho she whould have lost her job and grant! I say crap! The show killed the animal!!!

Bethany said...

Update: I found Carolina Vargas' email address:

I found it on this website:

Some guy from New York said...

Bethany, did you try e-mailing her? I think it's best if she's not overwhelmed with tons of e-mail so I'll hold off on e-mailing to ask if you already have. Just let us know here what the response was.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with this anonymous poster.

"Well if you take a wild animal and raise it and then expect it to survive in the wild, that is sort of naive! They should have just taken it in as a pet or put it in a zoo and it would still be alive!"

I have been crying since I saw this show yesterday and even today. Thank God we have really high cubicles at work becasue how could I explain myself? Am I crying because I ended a relationship last night? Is someone in my family sick? No I am crying because of this otter I saw on TV. Maybe It hit me so hard because my Ferret passed away five months ago. It got to a point where I had to put him to sleep but at least I knew what happened to him! He was in my arms when he left this world. What Carolina went through, I hope I never have to experience with a loved little buddy like that. I refused to watch that “Animal police” Because the only time I saw it, one dogs outcome was just so terrible. If they have nother special like this I am unplugging my TV and walking away. Poor little Sancho. I believe he would have come back to Carolina. I think something happened to him.

Trailhead said...

Clearly keeping him in captivity would have been the safer option. But I don't know enough to say that it was inevitably doomed to failure. My understanding is that there have been some successes releasing animals raised in captivity back into the wild.

I'd like to know what Vargas'opinion on that issue is now, after her experience with Sancho, and the show didn't really discuss that.

Lewis said...

Wild Kingdom? As in "Mutual of Omaha"??? Oops...I see now that Kristy already said something similar....sorry! And, you're right....isn't it weird how these emotions can sometimes come out of nowhere.

michael said...

Seems like I'm not alone in my sentiments, feelings and tears for SANCHO. It was very nice to see the others taking to Carolina after seeing the relationship between her and SANCHO.

Bethany said...

No I haven't emailed her yet because I don't really know exactly what to say to her. I think maybe "trail head" the author of this blog should write the email because they seem to be so good with words. What do you think?

Trailhead said...

Okay, I'm writing up an e-mail right now. I'll post about it later on tonight or tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...

I just had to share this with you guys.

It's 24 hour sea lion cam!

just copy and paste.


thank you for contacting Dr Vargas. I am eager to hear what she has to say. I love your web site by the way. This is the Anonymous who had the ferret. They are related to Otters I beleive. Weasles for sure. Now I have a cat. When I was volunteering at Paws he decided he wanted to come home with me. Wasin't my choice but he made getting over Rascal 10x easier!

We love our furry little buddies don't we.

Anonymous said...

why did that not work?

OK I put it in sections. You guys may have to put it together



Trailhead said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for the link, can't wait to check it out.

And yes -- ferrets, weasels, wolverines, martens, otters: Mustelids all!

Carolina Vargas said...

Dear "trailhead",
I'm touched with all your act of loosening (I'm not sure if this term is correct... as you know English is not my first language ;))and your interest in keeping the discussion about Sancho and the film. I got your message and decide to read your blog before answer the questions. I'd like to direct this comment to the "anonymous" who said:
"Well if you take a wild animal and raise it and then expect it to survive in the wild, that is sort of naive! They should have just taken it in as a pet or put it in a zoo and it would still be alive! This is a case of where *doing the right thing* actually killed the poor animal! But in the end money for her grant won out. She had to follow a plan and if she had saved Sancho she would have lost her job and grant! I say crap! The show killed the animal!!!"

I agree with you "trailhead", keep Sancho in a zoo would have been the safer (and I'd like to go further: it would have been the easier solution), but I wasn't interested in the easier solution. After two years devoting my time, love and why not... life to the giant otters the last thing I would want for a wild otter was put it in a cage. Before start studying otters in the wild, I was used to work with rehabilitation of captive wild animals, and I know how the process is. Besides that, the original idea was attach to Sancho a radio transmitter to keep following him after he decides to leave and take important information for the species conservation. Unfortunately, he left before I go on with the surgery to put the transmitter. Sancho, more than everything, was a tool for keep learning about the endangered otters. Of course, was impossible not fall in love with him. But, "anonymous" can you imagine keep a 2 meters long pet?! How about provide 4 kilos per day of fish for this lovely "little" pet? I never thought about make Sancho my pet. As a vet and a conservationist I know that even a wild animal that is bonded with human, will never be a domestic animal. Actually, part of my job is to discourage people for doing that because this is one of the aspects that support illegal wild animal trade. For sure, I knew that the contact Sancho had with me could change his life (and possible did).
I didn't understand, "anonymous", what you meant with: "She had to follow a plan and if she had saved Sancho she would have lost her job and grant!" What can I say is that if I had saved Sancho I would have more work to do and I'd be glad to do it because I really love my job.
Ok…. finally I'd like to say that I never saw Sancho again, even after months looking for him. Some tour guides that work in the area where Sancho used to live told me that he was around, but once I haven't seen him I can't confirm. When Sancho disappeared I was really confused and sad, I couldn't believe (and accept) that he was "ready" to go! In fact some factors could help him decide to go: the meeting with the wild couple, it was the beginning of the dry season (when the fish start the migration to the main water channel and the otters might follow them) and the brake of human contact. Now I can say that I was wrong in spend less time with him before put the transmitter…
It is impossible to know and was impossible to predict Sancho´s future, but I'm sure that he was handled like a wild otter and I did my best to respect this condition. Sancho left… I learnt a lot during and after his handling. By the way, I'm working in a paper about the whole process!
I'm sorry "trailhead", take your space to give such explanation, I hope I'm not being very rude!
Kristy and Lewis: have you seen the film?! Please let me know your opinion!
Linda: your husband can be right! It's really possible that Sancho was looking for a mate!
The couple in a Lincoln hotel: even the losses can teach us about life, isn't right?! I handled Sancho from Oct 2005 until May 2006.
Anonymous who had a ferret: "trailhead" is right, ferrets and otters are related, they are mustelids, and the giant otter is the biggest between the 13 species of otters.
Thank you "drivinglaughingcrying", "some guy from NY", Michael, Jayne… don´t feel sorry, even if "the worse" happened to Sancho I can assert you that he had a great time! Thank you all for the messages, I really appreciate that!! Feel free to comment again or write to me anytime (It could take some time, but I'll answer all the messages!).
Best wishes, Carolina.

Trailhead said...

I am very grateful to you for taking the time to write this. And I agree totally with your response to Anonymous. You did the best thing for Sancho, and for all giant otters. I am incredibly inspired by your work and your courage. I'm so glad you wrote this here. Many thanks.

Trailhead said...

Oh, and you are not being rude at all! I am very happy to have you commenting here!

Parnell said...

I'm so glad I found this page, thank you trailhead for hosting it. Since so many of us have been moved by the story, I think it would be great to know if there were some way to support the efforts of the great otter enviornmental groups that are supporting Carolinas work supporting the great otters, especially conserving their natural habitat.

Anonymous said...

I could not helped being moved by the fabulous Wild Kingdom episode and "goggled" to learn the fate of baby Sancho and hoped like most of you that Carolina found Sancho. But realistically while I hope with all my heart that he is still alive, I very much doubt that Sancho could have suddenly left his "mummy" for ever unless there was a tragic end, and in the Pantanal there is more than one way of that happening. I am sure that Carolina did the best any human could have done, but for a lone otter which has been reared since birth by a non-biologic parent however well, to survive on daily basis in the dangerous swamp by itself is remote. It was obvious in the episode that despite the exposure to the other 2 otters Sancho was still very uneasy in their presence and had only rudimentary social skills, which would have hampered his assimilation with other otters and his ultimate survival.

Trailhead said...

Parnell, you're welcome. It's made the last week extremely interesting for me. First, to realize that so many others besides me were moved by Raising Sancho. And second, to have Carolina Vargas commenting here is just wonderful.

Anonymous, I understand what you're saying, but I'm still quite heartened to hear that some tour guides think they've seen him.

Thank you both for commenting!

Anonymous said...

this is Anonymous who had the ferret
I am so Glad Dr. Vargas answered. That was really cool. I wasn’t expecting her to answer. I'm sure she is super busy but she gave me some nice thoughts. Sancho following the fish migration and finding Mrs. Sancho and making lots of little Sanchoetts. Otters are just so darn cute! They look like BIG ferrets! Rascal’s nickname was “Most Handsome little man, ever to exist, in the history of the entire universe” But now I have the most beautiful Kitty. I’m sure others with pets will disagree but this is what I believe.

My little guy use to follow me around the house like a miniature Sancho and wait by the refrigerator for me to cook his dinner!

Now I'm a little more at ease. I will go home and give Kitty Tootinheimer lots of hugs and Kisses! Has anyone ever met a cat that likes to be covered in fuzzy blankies and eat from my spoon? He is definitely super domesticated! Can’t imagine him surviving in the wild. And when I got him from Paws he just turned 8! Everyone was telling me horror stories of adopting an adult cat but I guess it just depends on the animal. They all have their own personalities. Like people. My baby creampuff!

Thank you to Trailhead for contacting Dr Vargas

Best Regards

Trailhead said...

but I guess it just depends on the animal. They all have their own personalities

You're right about that, Anonymous With the Ferret. I love the story about your ferret following you to the refrigerator.

Some guy from New York said...

Wow, thanks Trailhead for contacting Carolina and thanks so much to Carolina for responding! I'm glad you got to see firsthand how deeply your story and your work has touched so many of us. I honestly do feel a bit better hearing your points on trying to adjust Sancho to the wild rather than being in a zoo. It makes a lot of sense. Anyhow, best of luck with your work and thank you so much again for responding here!

Trailhead said...

Carolina, I just sent you an e-mail, but I've been having trouble with my e-mail this morning, so I don't know if it went through! I don't want to send it again and fill up your inbox. If you happen to check in again here, will you let me know if you received it? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is anonymous with the ferret again,

If Carolina sees my message again I would like to thank her for her reply and her time and to say that my heart completely went out for her while watching "Raising Sancho" I understand loosing an animal is like loosing a baby. I think maybe I cried so hard when I wathed it because I may have seen part of myself in her. My hopes are that Sancho is alive and well and making lots of little Sancho babies to add to the dwindleing population of Giant Otters

Thanks again and thanks again To Trailhead

Lizy said...

Yes is true what you guys were saying that more people are going to post. I just watched it yesterday oct. 21 and yes I cried and saying WHY!!!!. The fisrt thing came to my mind, internet...and came across this wonderful page. Thank you, Thank you trailhead it help me alot and just reading Carolina's post the best part. Feel better bust still a little sad. Hope he found a girlfriend and has some Sanchitos:)

Trailhead said...

Lizy, you're so welcome! Be sure to read the comments to the other posts, because Carolina left several informative comments about Sancho and giant otters generally.

An-D said...

I found your site also looking for an update on Sancho (I saw it yesterday.) The story was very inspiring, and heart-wrenching! I wanted to say that I think what Carolina did was wonderful. She really gave him a chance to live in the wild- a chance he would have never gotten had someone without her expertise or caring found and decided to help him. She observed and taught him real lessons that a mother in the wild would- I was so happy when he caught his first fish that I clapped out loud! She knew the how hard it would be when he went on his own, but she continued to work to make him ready. I hope that one day Carolina does see Sancho with his new otter family doing well- I still have hope he's out there just being a wild otter.

Josh Saenz said...

I am a 29 year-old man who when I saw the ending I cried and cried because I really wanted to see Sancho do well in the wild. He was so cute and adorable. I really think he was eaten however, thats one of the reasons I dislike aligators as well. Does anyone have any news on Sancho???

Trailhead said...

An-D: Agreed. I hope he's producing many little Sanchos.

Josh: Did you see Carolina's comment above? She's left a few more on other posts as well. It makes me feel a lot better to know that some of the tour guides in the area think they saw him.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if one of the tour guides could take a picture next time they think they see Sancho, and show it to Carolina to see if it's really him. I hope he is still alive.

Deeann & Stevan said...

I was so glad to find this blog. My husband and I also watched the adorable story of Sancho last night. We were both crying like babies so when we found this blog we didn't feel so silly about that. I usually NEVER watch anything on Animal Planet because I just can't handle anything sad about animals, and I hate seeing animals killing other animals (though I know they all have to eat), but I remember watching Wild Kingdom as a little kid and knew those stories weren't sad so I thought I'd watch this one. Wow, I was wrong and boy was it sad (though I am so happy I saw it) the part that really killed me was when Carolina would leave him alone and he would "cry" for her just like a little human baby would have done. I was sobbing so hard my 4 and 5 year old sons came in and asked their Dad if Mommy was ok. And when Carolina started crying when she was saying how she would have to look for "his body too" my heart sank and I felt so bad for her because I am sure she felt guilty just like any "mother" would feel. It was really nice to read the post from Carolina and though I would LOVE to think that little doll is still out there somewhere, I hate to agree with some of the other posters, but I feel like he probably was eaten by one of those caman's (sp), but I have to tell myself, if he did cross the rainbow bridge at least he had a wonderful life (thanks to Carolina) before it was his time to go. Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this blog. It's nice to know so many people feel the same as I do :)

Trailhead said...

Deeann, thanks for commenting. It was a few days before I could even think about the show without tearing up. I went through an enormous pile of tissues.

It's funny. I may be naive, but I can't help but get the feeling that he made it. I know a lot of people who have commented here feel differently. But having read the things that Carolina said, including the factors that tend toward a conclusion that Sancho left of his own volition, I just can't help but think he decided he was grown up, and it was time to go.

But who knows. Anyway, thanks so much for your comment. It's really interesting for me to read each person's take on it.

kirsten said...

Thank you for posting this! I just finished watching the program (I tivo'd it). I immediately googled Carolina Vargas hoping to find an update. Add me to the list of saps who totally cried for the last fifteen minutes of the show- I had to find out if she eventually found Sancho. Sad to see that she hasn't- but thrilled that she found this and that trailhead helped keep us up to date.

Before the show I didn't even know giant otters existed. So even if poor little Sancho didn't make it, I'm sure he's helped educate thousands of people. Carolina is doing amazing work- and I really hope Sancho is out there

Trailhead said...

We're all saps here, Kirsten, so welcome!

You've kind of tapped into one of the things I find interesting about this whole thing, which is how much Sancho has educated (and hopefully even radicalized, dare I say it) the people who saw the show.

And congratulations on your new house. :) (I clicked through to your blog.)

Anonymous said...




Opal said...

Hello there From Holland

My husband and i watched "Raising Sancho" Last night and where very disappointed at the out come... Wasnt expecting to be watching such a tearjerker.. cant seem to let it go..

I am however verry happy to find this Blog and to have some sort of closure hearing how Carolina Vargas also found closure and has accepted Sancho's fate..

Sancho will always have a place in my heart.. and if ever i hear more news about him .. my heart will skip twice!!

Dear Sancho.. That you may live a happy Life with lots of kids and a love of your life.. Or be resting in peace With God..

Love Opal

Trailhead said...

Hello, Opal! Thanks for your lovely comment. The ending surprised me too. I wasn't expecting that either.

Dear Sancho.. That you may live a happy Life with lots of kids and a love of your life.. Or be resting in peace With God..

Yes, exactly!

Trailhead said...

Jeff from the Lake District in the UK sent the following e-mail today:

Were from the lake district in the united kingdom, my son and i have just watched raising sancho. We hoped for a happy ending as i remember watching the 1969 film ring of bright water with Bill Travers ( when i was 9 yrs old)and being in floods of tears at the end. Oh yes it happened again ( i,m now 39 yr old weightlifter) , i truly hope sancho is alive and well. Otters are slowly making a comeback in the lake district after being persecuted for years, one day carolina might come and see them for herself.
Please post this on your blog so Carolina can see how far and reaching her story is.
Many thanks jeff

chittraporn said...

Raising Sancho were splited into 2 parts and shown in Bangkok, Thailand. on Friday Jan 11and today(Jan 14). I was so cheerful with the first part on Friday and then cried heavily for the second one.

The film is really good. Carolina's love on Sancho is real.

I have been checking if it has any update on Sancho and found this blog..

Sancho's sketch made me cry again.. I hope Carolina will eventually find him.

Merc said...

Far reaching is Right - I am in Portsmouth UK and my Mum in France. We both saw the programme last night I cried !- and have spent ages trying to find out and update! I think the Work carolina did with Sancho was amazing! natures will he is alive! - However the bigger picture is the publicity that Sancho has bought which will help the giant Otter population in the long run. I too have had ferrets and other pets and am amazed at the intelligence creatures show in their own way. Amazing research and a lucky lady to have had that experience and to be able to physically have so much influence for cause. trailhead thanks for letting your blog get side tracked!

Trailhead said...

Hello, chittraporn! I noticed I was getting a few hits from Asia as well. Interesting that they split it into two parts, because the mood is definitely different for the first and last parts.


However the bigger picture is the publicity that Sancho has bought which will help the giant Otter population in the long run.

I really hope this is true. Giant otters face a number of threats, and it seems like there may not be the kind of money for research that there is for polar bears and other "charismatic megafauna."

And this isn't a sidetrack at all. Writing about these issues is one of my favorite things to do. Sancho is one of my favorite topics. :)

Anonymous said...

Greetings Merc,

from 1/3 the globe over, it's almost noon here in Chicago.

I was wondering if you have the same health problems with Ferrets as we do in the US. Like Insullinoma and Adrenal Gland Disease. There are a lot of different theories being researched but one of them was that these problems came from inbreeding. Most of our ferrets in the US come from Marshal Farms who use to breed these little guys for coats but realises they were worth more $$ as pets. been to London and Paris by the way, like 10 years ago, both were beautiful.

It's amazing how many people cute little Sancho touched.


chittraporn said...

Hello Trailhead,

Glad that you got more hits from Asia..
I wrote about Sancho in my 2 blogs in Thai language, my friends can come and find out more here.. so you may get a few more hits then. :-)

I left your link there so if anyone whises to know more they can read from your blog..

I came back and read more on your blog a couple times today.. very details here.. and I love your photostream as well..

Best wishes from Thiland..

chittraporn said...


This documentary has to split two times becuase it is only 30 minutes programme.

jon said...

If the worst did happen to Sancho then Carolina and all of us who's hearts he touched can gain solace by the bond that they had together.
Yes he was a wild animal but also her baby.
If she had not have rescued him at the outset then he would maybe have been killed within the first few days.
If he isn't here anymore ( although I really hope that he is out there somewhere )Carolina can look back on the time she spent with him and the quality of this time shared by each of them and Carolina making his young life happy and fun filled.It will be something she will remember for the rest of her life, and something for all of us who care about these things to marvel at. The love of an animal for a human being and the love of a human being for a unusual animal.
God bless you Carolina for what you have done, and Sancho, I really hope that you are still around and have grown up nicely.

Trailhead said...


Google doesn't translate from Thai to English. :( Does anyone know of a web translator that will go from Thai to English?

That picture with Carolina and Sancho made me teary-eyed, even after all these months.


If she had not have rescued him at the outset then he would maybe have been killed within the first few days.

Absolutely right. Thanks for your excellent comment.

chittraporn said...

Dear Trailhead,

I mentioned what was on the show and brifed how Dr. Vargas trained Sancho. Listed some activities they did together.. and mentioned that anyone wants to know more they can come and read from your blog.

I will see if it has any translation programme allow you to read it..

It's 2.42am in BKK now and I'm still reading yours..

Hope we could get some good news from Dr. Vargas soon...

Trailhead said...

Too funny. I was up late last night reading the comments coming in from Europe and Asia! I could tell when people started to wake up in the UK, because all of a sudden the number of visits went up really fast.

chittraporn said...

Morning from Bangkok... it's another bright and sunny day...

Trailhead said...

I wrote another post about Sancho, mainly explaining why I think Sancho left of his own accord rather than some darker scenario, and also why I absolutely, wholeheartedly agree with Carolina's decision not to keep him in captivity.

It's here, if anyone's interested. I've added this comment to the other threads as well, because it seems that everyone is checking different threads. :)

jim-irie said...

just so you know Raising Sancho is on bbc1 again on 24th january at 02:40. I thought this was an incredible programme and it really touched me, i hadn't cried for years and years but i sobbed my heart out when i saw it.
the environment has become more and more important to me in recent years but it can be quite intimidating to try and think about raising money for environmental projects as the world is a big place, Sancho has inspired me to raise money for projects that work in the amazon and the pantanal, thankyou trailhead for contacting Carolina and providing excellent info on where to donate money.
It's amazing to see how many people have seen the programme and commented here, just think what difference we could make if we all raised some money for conservation work in these areas - I know it would certainly make me feel better.
I have recorded the programme and will always treasure it!

Trailhead said...

Sancho has inspired me to raise money for projects that work in the amazon and the pantanal

This is a great idea.

Everyone, I just moved to a new home in another state, and my internet access is sporadic. So please don't think I've abandoned these threads. I'm still checking in.

clare said...

After a chance early morning tv viewing(awoken by a bad dream)- I watched Raising Sancho and have been so touched by this delightful animal and the love and dedication shown by Carolina. I wish Carolina success in her search for Sancho and I'm sure that the skills she taught him will ensure that they will meet again when the time is right for Sancho.

alison j said...

hi trailhead i am from hartlepool north east of uk,after watching raising sancho found your site on google .i cried for days after watching raising sancho ,thought i was just being over emotional (as i have been since i had my baby girl a year ago).could not believe how many other people this story has touched.carolina vargas is an inspiration,i hope she keeps in touch with you so we can get updates of her work .i also hopes she does a paper and possibly write a book.i live in hope that it was sancho that the tour guides have seen and hopefully he will come back to see carolina one day with his family ,thank you alison

Trailhead said...

Clare: I was wondering how many people would see the 2:40 am showing! Perhaps only those who can't sleep or had bad dreams. Thanks for stopping by.

alison j: I cried for two days myself, and my son is five years old, so it can't be that. :)

Thanks to both of you for your comments.

Francine said...

Hello Trailhead and all other readers.
Let me introduce myself, i'am a 64 year old woman, life in Belgium so English is not my native language and i am not used to blog.
Sorry for the mistakes in my writing.
On januari 13/2008 i have seen "only a part" of the documentary "raising sancho" and i was very touched by it.
Since then i am looking for the video or DVD of this documentary but without any success.
Maybe anyone of you can help me out
(Jim-irie)of course i will pay for all expenses.

Trailhead said...

If anyone can help Francine drop a comment or e-mail me so I can put the two of you in touch.

jim-irie said...

I have it in black and white recorded it off bbc-iplayer, i also have it in colour with someone doing sign language, both are on vhs video, I would be happy to copy it for Francine and send it to her if she is happy to pay for a blank video and the postage let me know which version you would prefer. I would recomend the colour version as the sign language is not too distracting and is only on when there is dialogue.
Does anyone have any good ideas for a fundraising activity? I was thinking off walking across northern England following the route of Hadrians wall, let me know if anyone has any other ideas.

Anonymous said...

I know this is probably old news to you now Carolina, but I have only just discovered this website! I typed in Sancho on Google as I too wanted to know what happened to him, and was so upset when watching the documentary. I would just like to say that I think the work you are doing is fantastic and I am happy that Sancho, whilst he was with you had a happy life. I hope he is out there and that he is safe and happy. You're an inspiration to a lot of people, keep up all the great work you are doing x

Carolina Vargas said...

Hello everyone!!
I´m really sorry for the abscence, I want you all to know that I keep reading Trailhead´s blog but it takes me sometime to write my answers.
First of all, and again, thank you Trailhead for keeping and updating this space! Be sure that what you´ve been doing is helping the giant otters!
Im surprised to know how spread Raising Sancho is. Thank you so much for the messages from the UK, Holland, Belgium, France and... Bangkok!!! I also got few messages from Portugal. This week the film was first transmitted by Animal Planet here in Brasil so, Trailhead prepare yourself for more comments (I hope so).
I´ll try and find out if BBC or Animal Planet are considering produce commercial DVD´s. I´ll let you know as soon as I have a response.
Thank you again for everyone, keep in touch, I promise I´m not take long to answer!!!
All my love, Carolina.

Trailhead said...

I thought I saw some visitors from south America and central America. That explains it.

Good to have you here again, Carolina! I get visitors every day looking for Sancho, from all around the world. He is much admired. :)

geheim said...

Hello from Mexico City, i just saw Raising Sancho documentary and i must confess it touched my sensitivity even though i am not into animals. Excelent photography, excelent music and excelent job made by Carolina. Thumbs up for quality TV like this. It is very sad to think what we are doing to this planet and its innocent creatures...

geheim said...

For those who liked the music in Raising Sancho, it was made by this guy:

worth listening.. Saludos!

Trailhead said...

geheim, thanks for pointing me to that site. For those interested, go to Taylor's site, click on "recent work," and scroll down. You'll find a clip from the show of Sancho chasing fish, along with the accompanying music. There are also other clips of music from other shows. Great stuff.

Thanks again, geheim!

Trailhead said...

Or you can click on "scores," which I think might be the quickest way.

jim-irie said...

I know some of you might not be into this kind of thing but I find that recently i have become more and more interested in it. Check out the video via the link below and the e-mail i composed to some high powered executive types at unilever, it would be cool if you could sign the open letter and mabye take the time to send an e-mail to the unilever execs to tell them what you think, i think Orang-utans are pretty cool.

Dave Angel, Eco Warrior - AKA Jim


I've just discovered that Unilever, the company that makes
products like Dove, is involved in destroying rainforest to make
ingredients for their soap and other popular products. I've signed
Greenpeace's Open Letter and written to Unilever to ask them to
change. Please do the same and help spread the word. Visit the
Greenpeace webpage for the campaign:

Dear Sir or Madam,
I have taken the time to write to you today concerning the use of palm oil in products such as persil,surf, pot noodle,knorr, walls, unox soups, flora and dove soap which i understand unilever invests heavily in. I am a 34 year old Firefighter from Hertfordshire in England and would not class myself as unusual or remarkable in any way, like most people in the world today I am alot more in touch with greener issues and pride myself in obtaining as much information as I can so I can make responsible choices with regard to my own actions, products I buy, who i vote for and any action I can take to persuade my friends, family and colleagues to make responsible choices themselves. Also I feel it is each individuals responsibilty to point out to any companies or corporations any actions which they feel are socially unnaceptable rather than just boycotting products without giving an organization the chance to do the right thing, I would rather tell unilever that I am unhappy with the source of there palm oil based prducts so YOU have the chance to change the palm oil traders and producers to sources that do not come from cleared rainforest and peatland that are the last strongholds of endangered species (such as orang-utans), after all people like me would stick to buying products that were not made with ingredients sourced in this fashion even at a higher cost.
I have made many choices like this already, I walk to and from my place of work instead of owning a second vehicle (a ten mile round trip), I no longer eat meat (becouse of animal cruelty and concerns about de-forestation to produce soya for animal feed), I have fully insulated my home, used energy saving lighting and recycle everything I can, these choices have involved a higher cost or physical effort, inconvenience or time constraints but I made them anyway because I know that lots of small changes will make a bigger result and becouse I want to preserve our environment for the future. I am sure that you have similar concerns regarding the state of the environment and your own childrens future and how large companies and decisions they make now will be viewed in the future.
The information regarding these issues is now readily available thanks to the internet, i would like to share with you some basic truths that i was able to find easily:
As i'm sure you will realise I am prepared to boycott your products and indeed feel I have no choice but to do so, I feel ashamed to admit that I have used them in the past and feel I owe a debt of grattitude to Greenpeace for highlighting these problems during thier recent demonstrations on unilever premises, I would like to hear what you plan to do to remedy the situation as i'm sure that in the face of such alarming facts you will agree that things need to change, and quickly.
I await your response.

James Attenborough.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

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sadddam said...

hi there!

its been more than a year since the 1st post, but sancho's and carolina's story still spreads over the world. im from hungary, and just seen the movie (by accident as i almost never wacth tv, but this time somehow the tv was on, lucky me:)

i love animals (more than most humans for sure:), but this was the 1st time that i literaly felt in love to one within 5 minutes - by a tv program. at the end i cried, cried for carolina, i could deeply feel her pain (as much as it possible) and i cried thinking of what could happened to sancho.
when the show ended i just sat and had thoughts about how strong are my feelings about the story and wondered if is it only me, or are other ppl out there felt the same about sanco and carolina.
then i've found this blog, red the post and wow! theres another human with the exact same feelings - then went through on the comments and ... wow! i have to agree with one of the previous commenter, theres something magical about this show!
magical but not mysterious: its about true love, dedication, careness - its life in its best glory.

i was so happy when i saw that carolina commented here too! she gave me some good feelings 'bout sancho's future (past now) and was nice to read her opinion.
carolina, you are a wonderful and beautiful person with true love in your heart. i wish the world would have more people like you!

thank you trailhead for this site! lets hope that its true what carolina said and its helping the giant otters in any way. i wish if i could help them too (any advise on that?:)

Anonymous said...

Hello. Today I watch a film about Sancho in the Polish television. I hope that Sancho is alive. Greetings to Dr. Carolina and for all fans of Sancho. Asiula

ines said...


Although it's been two years know since the first post and i watched the film a while ago, I'm wondering if there is any up-date on what happened to Sancho? Maybe, as it has been here suggested by Anonymous, one of the tour guides made a picture of him and showed it to Carolina? It would be really great, if it could be confirmed that he is still alive. Anyway, thank you very much for this page. Hope you are still there. Greetings from Poland

Trailhead said...

Hello, ines! Sorry for the delay in responding. I don't think the guides have seen Sancho. :( I heard from Carolina a couple of weeks ago, and I'm sure she would have told me if that had happened.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I just watched the story of Sancho in Florida and it also touched by heart. It was great to find this blog and reading all the comments here from around the world. I know it has been a few years (this is Dec 2011) but has there been an update on Sancho. Was he ever found.

Sarah said...

Hello! I am located just outside of Detroit, Michigan USA and Sancho's story aired this past Sunday 12/04/11 on Animal Planet. I too was touched by this story. I admire Carolina Vargas for her work with Sancho and only wish I could watch something like that happen, or better yet, help! I have googled and read every post possible about Sancho and Carolina and was so happy to find I wasn't the only one who was intrigued by this wildlife story. I only wish that one day I can be a part of something like this. Thank you, Carolina, for sharing this part of your life with us! You should share another experience with us now that Sancho has taught you so much! :)

Pia said...

It is July 2012 and I saw, for the first time, the story of Raising Sancho today on The Animal Planet. It is so amazing that it touched me so much and then to find all of the other viewers who enjoyed it as much as I did.

Animals share this planet with us so I am glad we have research to learn more about these neighbors. I am also grateful that there are dedicated people who study them like Dr. Vargas. Every few decades there is someone special who has an innate intuition between them and a species of animals. Remember Jacwues Cousteau? Remember Jane Goodall? Now we have Carolina Vargas. Thank you all for your past and present dedication!

goran said...

Dear all

I have seen the "BBC Natural World - Raising Sancho: The Giant Otter Orphan (Nature Documentary)" on 13-december-2015.
Since then am feeling helpless and don't have words to express my feelings. Earlier also I was touched and moved by wildlife stories like " Lobo, the wolf that changed the America" but this story is based upon unconditional love, selflessness, pain and agony. I really felt bad for Carolina and Sancho, I constantly think about his fate. I will pray for Sancho's life and I have great respect for Carolina's feeling. God bless both of them


Nitin Gurung