A California man survived 19 days in Mendocino National Forest by subsisting on an authentic paleo diet of algae, lizards, frogs, snakes and squirrels after getting lost in the woods during a hunting trip. Gene Penaflor, 72, kept himself warm at night by covering himself with leaves and a trash bag.
“He ate squirrels, whatever he could catch,” Gene’s son, Jeremy Penaflor, ABC News Oct. 13. “He ate lizards, he ate a couple of frogs, he ate snakes, and survival mode kicked in. When you have no food for 18 days, whatever protein you can get, he did.”
Penaflor got lost in Mendocino National Forest Sept. 24 during a hunting trip with a friend. The retired San Francisco hotel worker got separated from his hunting buddy due to heavy fog, and eventually passed out after falling into a crevice. When he woke up, he was alone, with no food and no idea exactly where he was.
Gene survived by eating algae and any animal he could hunt, including one snake, three squirrels and several frogs. He stayed hydrated by drinking water from a nearby drainage.
Fitness experts will note that Penaflor's diet was authentically paleo, in that his protein intake consisted largely of small animals like frogs and lizards and not the grass-fed beef and bacon that are the centerpieces of "modern paleo" diets.
Penaflor gathered bundles of leaves to keep warm at night, and protected himself from the frequent cold rain and snow by hiding under a fallen tree. Temperatures in the forest fluctuated between 25 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Authorities looked for Penaflor after being alerted by his family, but gave up the search after four days because they presumed he had died. He was found on Oct. 12 after a group of hunters heard his cries for help.
Penaflor is exhausted but doing well after his ordeal. His children say his excellent survival instincts helped him stay alive under conditions where others might have perished. “He’s a survivalist, in good shape, and has a karate black belt,” said his niece.