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Volume 3914
More Kids Raised By Animals
Wild animals have raised plenty of fictional characters like Mowgli, Tarzan, Romulus and Remus. But behind every made-up story lay some truth: there have been around 100 documented cases of real feral children who survived in the wild thanks to the maternal instinct of dogs, wolves, monkeys, even goats.

    Isolated from human contact, these children often do not develop basic social or language skills, making it difficult for them to ever live in the civilized world. Those who can communicate usually express their desire to return to the wild. Read the ten cases here then decide where you stand: should kids raised by animals stay in the animal world or is it our duty to teach them to be human, even against their will?

1. Oxana Malaya
1. Oxana Malaya
At three years old, Ukrainian Oxana Malaya’s neglectful and abusive parents exiled her from the home. For five years she lived in a kennel behind the house with several wild dogs. When found in 1991 she could not speak, but rather barked and growled as she ran around on all fours. She was so bonded with the dogs that authorities were driven away by the pack on their first attempt to rescue her. 

Now in her 20s Malaya can speak but exhibits the mental capacity of a six year old.  She lives in a home for people with disabilities and while she longs for her former life, she has found some solace in caring for the cows on the property.

2. Vanya Yudin, “The Bird Boy”
2. Vanya Yudin, “The Bird Boy”
In 2008 seven-year-old Russian Vanya Yudin was found confined to a room filled with both wild and domesticated birds, bird food and bird droppings. Raised like a pet bird and never spoken to, the boy could only communicate by chirping and flapping his arms. 

The boy's neglectful mother released the child into the care of social workers soon after he was discovered. While he was temporarily placed in an asylum, recent reports say he now lives in a center for psychological care where he’s undergoing rehabilitation.

3. John Ssebunya
3. John Ssebunya
After witnessing his father murder his mother, traumatized four-year-old John Ssebunya fled his Ugandan home. For three years, he lived in the jungle and was cared for by a troop of vervet monkeys. 

When found in 1991, John's adoptive animal family came to his defense throwing sticks at the rescuers. Now in his 20’s John vaguely recalls that after a few days alone in the jungle, five monkeys offered him food, taught him how to search for food and showed him how to climb trees. Thanks to the orphanage that took him in, John not only talks today, but also sings.

4. Daniel, “The Andes Goat Boy”
4. Daniel, “The Andes Goat Boy”
A boy of 12 was found in the mountains of Peru living amongst goats in 1990. He supposedly survived eight years in the wild by drinking the animals’ milk and eating roots and berries. His hands and feet had become hardened, much like hooves, from time spent walking on all fours. 

A team from Kansas University and Kansas State University investigated The Andes Goat Boy, who they named Daniel, and declared that while his human language skills were almost non-existent, he could in fact communicate with the goats he called family.

5. Ivan Mishukov
5. Ivan Mishukov
Ivan Mishukov ran away from his abusive parents in 1996 at age four. Obtaining food by scavenging and begging, he shared his scraps with a pack of stray dogs. In turn, the dogs protected the boy and kept him warm at night. 

Those who observed the boy amongst the dogs noted that he appeared to be the pack leader. Snarling and biting, Ivan was captured two years later and brought to a children’s home. Unlike most feral children, he was able to readjust to the human world, likely because he’d spent his most formative childhood years in a home with a family. 

6. Rochom P’ngieng
6. Rochom P’ngieng
Rochom P’ngieng went missing while herding buffalo in Cambodia at age eight. In 2007, 18 years later, a villager witnessed a naked women sneaking around his property trying to steal rice. Identified as the long-lost Rochom by a distinctive scar, she was caught and brought back to her family.  Unable to adapt to life in society, Rochom attempted multiple escapes and eventually fled back to the forest in the spring of 2010. 

While a few supposed sightings have been reported, her whereabouts remain largely unknown. While some doubt the validity of Rochom’s story because she seemed to exhibit fewer animalistic tendencies than other feral children, supporters point out that she lived amongst humans for nearly a decade before wandering the woods.

7. Natasha Mikhailova
7. Natasha Mikhailova
In 2009 a five-year-old girl was found in an apartment in the Siberian city of Chita, filthy, barking and displaying other animal attributes. Neglected by her father and grandparents, she’d been shut up in the flat with only cats and dogs as company for her entire life. 

In addition to communicating solely in barks, she laps up her food and drink with her tongue, walks on all fours and plays like a dog. Currently under close observation at a social rehabilitation center, experts hope intensive education will allow Natasha to adapt to the human world.

8. Andrei Tolstyk
8. Andrei Tolstyk
Abandoned by his parents when he was just three months old, Andrei Tolstyk survived seven years in a sparsely populated area of Siberia thanks to the help of his family’s guard dog, who looked after him as if he was a puppy. As a result, Andrei walked on all fours, growled and bit people who approached him and sniffed at his food before eating. 

When he first arrived at an orphanage in 2004, he was terrified of people and behaved both erratically and aggressively. However, the staff was soon able to communicate with him using very basic sign language. In the years since, he has mastered eating with utensils, walking on two legs and making his bed.

9. Traian Caldarar
9. Traian Caldarar
Traian Caldarar lived three of his first seven years in the Romanian wild. The boy likely ran away from his abusive father shortly after his mother left fearing for her own life. He found shelter in a cardboard box and befriended stray dogs that provided protection and warmth. 

Found in 2002, near the body of a partially eaten dog, Traian was malnourished and suffering from Rickets, infected wounds and poor circulation. When he was taken into care, he slept under instead of on his bed and became very irritable when hungry. Now under the care of his grandfather, Traian speaks and attends elementary school.

10. Bello, “The Nigerian Chimp Boy”
10. Bello, "The Nigerian Chimp Boy"
In 1996, a mentally and physically disabled two-year-old boy was found with a chimpanzee family in Northern Nigeria. Probably abandoned at around six months old due to his disabilities, as is common among the nomadic Fulani tribe, Bello used his legs to walk but dragged his arms on the ground like an ape. 

When first placed in a home for orphans, he leapt about during the night, smashing and throwing anything in site while making chimp-like noises. While he appeared calmer six years later, he still could not communicate and retained many animalistic tendencies.

Amala and Kamala
From Wikipedia
Amala (Bengali: ????; died 21 September 1921) and Kamala (Bengali: ????; died 14 November 1929) were two "feral girls" from Bengal, British India (now in Paschimbanga, India) who were alleged to have been raised by a wolf family.

Their story earned substantial mainstream attention and debate, particularly because the account was reported and promoted by only one source, the reverend who claimed to have discovered the girls. Most researchers argue the girls were autistic, and in his book L'Enigme des enfants-loup ("Enigma of the Wolf-Children," 2007) French surgeon Serge Aroles concluded that the reverend's story was a hoax. 

Bradford housewife claims she spent five years being 
raised by monkeys in the Colombian jungle after she was kidnapped 
Daily Mail ~ October 21, 2012 ~ By Alex Gore
A Bradford housewife has claimed she spent five years as a child being raised by monkeys in the Colombian jungle. Marina Chapman said she was kidnapped for ransom in the 1950s when she was just five years old and abandoned in the jungle, with her captors believed to have botched the abduction.

For five years, she lived a Tarzan-style existence with a colony of Capuchin monkeys - learning to catch prey, including birds and rabbits, with nothing but her bare hands. Her daughter Vanessa James told The Sunday Times: 'She obviously learnt to fend for herself and only once got very ill when she ate some poisonous berries.' Chapman's life in the jungle was said to have ended when she was discovered by hunters and sold to a brothel in the northern city of Cucuta, where she was regularly beaten.  She escaped and was taken in by a Colombian family as a teenager, choosing the name Marina Luz.

When Chapman was in her twenties, she travelled to the UK with her neighbours - who worked in the textile trade - and remained in the country after meeting her future husband John Chapman. The couple have two children and live in Yorkshire. Chapman, who says she never cries, only told her husband, a former church organist and bacteriologist, about her bizarre claims after they were married. 

James added: 'When we wanted food, we had to make noises for it. All my school friends loved Mum as she was so unusual. She was childlike, too, in many ways. 'I got bedtime stories about the jungle, as did my sisters. We didn't think it odd - it was just Mum telling her life. So in a way it was nothing special having a mother like that.'

James is helping her mother write a book - The Girl With No Name, which is due to be published in April - about her experiences, while Blink Films is planning to make a television documentary about her childhood. Monkeys are known for accepting humans into the fold, according to experts on feral children. Ugandan orphan, John Ssebunya, lived for more than a year with monkeys at the age of four and adapted well to life with humans after he was rescued more than 20 years ago.

 Stranger Than Fiction:
Bear-Girl, Sheep-Boy, Leopard-Boy and Other Real Feral Children 
Who Make Tarzan Look Tame ~ November 9, 2012

Though most of us are unaware of it, every single face-to-face interaction we have with another human being contains countless social cues and signals, from subtle micro-expressions to nuanced body language gestures, collectively referred to as "social signaling." As Michael J. Arena writes, these "unconscious social signals" are "evolved from ancient primate signaling mechanisms" and they help us effectively communicate our "intentions, goals, and values." These signals are learned through our interactions with other human beings, so any lack of these interactions, particularly in our developmental years, can seriously impede our ability to socialize with others. Though quite rare, more than a few children have been discovered living alone in the wilderness, and, despite what Hollywood would have us believe, these "feral children" are often permanently inhibited from acculturating into society because they were unable to learn these important social signals.

The Strange Truth
There are countless tales of feral children being raised by wild animals in ancient myths, from Enkidu in the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh to Romulus and Remus, the feral twins who supposedly founded Rome. While the existence of these legendary ferals is disputed, there have been actual cases of children found living in the wild with all manner of beasts, from bears to leopards. Here are a selection of the more extraordinary, from The Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information, Canadian Edition by David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace, Ira Basen, and Jane Farrow (2004):

    Fraumark Bear-Girl (1767) — In 1767 two hunters captured a girl who attacked them after they shot her bear companion in the mountains near the village of Fraumark, Hungary. The tall, muscular, 18-year-old girl had lived with bears since infancy. Later she was locked up in an asylum in the town of Karpfen because she refused to wear clothes or eat anything but raw meat and tree bark.

    Irish Sheep-Boy (1672) — In 1672 a 16-year-old boy was found trapped in a hunter’s net in the hills of southern Ireland. Since running away from his parents’ home as a young child, the boy had lived with a herd of wild sheep. He was healthy and muscular even though he ate old grass and hay. After his capture he was taken to the Netherlands, where he was cared for in Amsterdam by Dr. Nicholas Tulp. The boy never learned human speech, but continued to bleat like a sheep throughout his life.

    Cachari Leopard-Boy (1938) — In 1938 an English sportsman found an eight-year-old boy living with a leopard and her cubs in the north Cachar Hills of India. The boy, who had been carried off by the leopard five years earlier, was returned to his family of peasant farmers. Although nearly blind, he could identify different individuals and objects by his extremely well-developed sense of smell.

    Saharan Gazelle-Boy (1960) — In September 1960 Basque poet Jean Claude Armen discovered and observed a boy who was approximately eight years old living with a herd of gazelles in the desert regions of the Western Sahara. For two months Armen studied the boy, whom he speculated was the orphaned child of some nomadic Saharan Moorish family. The boy traveled on all fours, grazed on grass, dug roots, and seemed to be thoroughly accepted by the gazelles as a member of the herd. Since the boy appeared happy, Armen left him with his gazelle family. American soldiers attempted to capture the boy in 1966 and 1970, but without success.

Inspired Fiction

Tarzan of the Apes (1918), Jungle Book (1942), The Woman (2011), Mama, and World War Z (2013)

Feral children have appeared on screen since the earliest days of cinema, with Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan being one of the first. The son of a British lord and lady who were marooned on the coast of Africa by mutineers, Tarzan eventually returned to civilization with few lingering feral traits save for his disdain for society. It was recently announced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows director David Yates will helm an all-new Tarzan movie for Warner Bros.

Mowgli of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is another fictional feral child that has been adapted for the big screen on more than one occasion. Lost in the Indian jungle, Mowgli is adopted by a pair of wolves and befriends several jungle creatures, including Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear and Kaa the python. Mowgli eventually chooses to return to the village of his adopted mother as a teenager.

A recent addition to feral fiction is the title "Woman" (Pollyanna McIntosh) in writer-director Lucky McKee's 2011 horror movie, who behaves much more like a wild animal than most fictional ferals, biting and even eating the body parts and organs of her "civilized" captors. Feral children are also mentioned frequently in Max Brooks' 2006 horror novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which has been made into a major motion picture set to debut in 2013.

Our Introductory Feral Children Site
The Georges Dodds Project Intro
Go directly to the texts
Simian Fiction Section

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