Jungle Mike wrestled snakes, built a hospital in Colombia — and served 20 years for a record St. Pete cocaine seizure
Michael Tsalickis of Tarpon Springs had such an extraordinary life that National Geographic once filmed him wrestling an anaconda and actor Robert Duvall starred in a movie based on his adventures.
This is the account by the Tampa Bay Times about Michael Tsalickis who emigrated to Colombia. He settled in a remote area in the department of Amazonas. To a city named Leticia. He went there to hire human apes to catch monkeys. Those apes he hired then spent their measly pesos in Leticia, a city allegedly “transformed by Michael James Tsalickis into a thriving town with a hospital, a hotel and a bona fide airport.”
Mike, Jimmy, Mr. T , “Jungle Mike” as he was known, went to Colombia to exploit the region. To build a business selling exotic animals to zoos and monkeys to researchers. Previously “Jungle Mike” opened a zoo in Tarpon Springs, Florida with an unnamed friend. Do you have to wonder why a zoo owner would go to Brazil and Colombia to trap exotic animals?
The apes he hired so benevolently to trap and not eat what was abundant in that region, helped him buy an airplane, build a business transporting medical supplies, trade exotic animals for profit and science, and extend a runway for an airport that lured Brazilian and Colombian airlines. [The national airline of Colombia, AVIANCA is now owned by a Brazilian citizen.]
Can you imagine how much it cost to build a runway that can handle heavy metal? How many monkeys, oscelots, and medical supplies did it take “Jungle Mike” to have the deep pockets of a Rockerfellar? That’s where the Cali cartel came to the rescue of a man who had failed once before in a little town of Florida, know as Tarpon Springs.
“It takes a monkey to buy pants in Leticia,” Tsalickis would say. “It takes a monkey to buy a shirt in Leticia.”
To read more about “Jungle Mike” please click on the link for the Tampa Bay Times.