The thought of human children being raised by animals sounds like fictitious tales from myths and movies like “The Legend of Tarzan.” But these are real cases of feral children who were raised by animals.
A feral child is a human child with little or no exposure to human care, loving or social behavior, and, of human language, usually isolated from all forms of human contact and interactions at a very tender age. Some of these feral children have been rejected, abandoned or confined and their attempted parents due to severe congenital defects. Some of them ran away after suffering from severe abuse or trauma. Many of these feral children, however, have been raised by animals. From the jungles of India to the forests of Germany, here are ten incredible but true cases of human children who were raised by animals.
1. Amala And Kamala, the feral “Wolf Girls” of Midnapore
In 1920, Reverend Singh sighted a mother wolf and her cubs; two of whom had long, knotted hair and resembled a human creature near Midnapore in the Bengal jungle of India. After much difficulties and strong resistance from their wolf family, the two young girls who have been living among wolves were captured. Amala and Kamala were probably not sisters. They have presumably been abducted by the wolves some years apart. When they were found, Kamala was eight years old while Amala was only 18 months old. Both girls were ignorant of the human language. They made high-pitched wailing noises, not unlike a wolf’s howling.
The girls seemed to lack any trace of humanness by the way they functioned. Their minds seemed to work like that of wolves. They would tear off any clothes put on them and ate only raw meat. They would sleep curled up together in a tight ball and would growl and twitch in their sleep. It became morphologically impossible for them to stand upright or attempt to walk because they’ve been on all fours for so long that their tendons and joints had become shortened. They never smiled nor seemed interested in any form of human interaction. The only readable emotion on their faces was fear. Their eyes were said to glow in darkness like cats. They were also said to possess a superhuman sense of smell and hearing. But human voices seemed to be mostly inaudible to their ears.
Amala, the younger girl, began to show signs of progress towards human speech as a healthy toddler before her early death after only a year. Kamala lived longer but was only able to learn about 20 words before she died of typhoid fever in 1929.
2. Prava “The Bird Boy,” Russia
The shocking story of Prava “The Bird Boy” hit the Russian media in 2008. According to reports, the 7-year-old boy was discovered in a tiny two-room apartment that also doubled as an aviary. His 31-year-old mother had kept him in the room filled with cages containing lots of birds, bird feed, and their droppings. She never spoke to Prava and treated him just like another pet bird in her aviary. Although authorities say the child was not physically harmed, he suffered from “Mowgli syndrome,” a term derived from the Jungle Book’s fictional feral child character who was raised by animals and incapable of engaging in any normal human communication. The “bird boy” only communicated by chirping and flapping his arm. He did not comprehend any human language. According to Miss Volskaya, the social worker who rescued him, “When you start talking to him, he chirps.”
When he realizes he is not being understood, he chirps the more and moves his arms with a bird-like gesture. His mother signed an abdication from that allowed his release for care. According to reports, he was initially taking into an asylum but later transferred to a center for psychological care shortly afterward.
3. Oxana Malaya, “The Ukrainian Dog Girl”
Oxana Malaya was born November 1983 and was a healthy child at birth according to medical records. However, her parents were alcoholics and were unable to care for her. This dysfunctional Ukrainian family lived in an impoverished neighborhood where many wild dogs roam the streets. One night after her parents had left her alone outside, the warmth-seeking infantile Oxana crawled into the farm kennel behind their house and curled up with the mongrel dogs, an act that probably saved her life.
She was eight years old feral child when she was found and had lived in the kennel among dogs for the most of her life. She lacked human interaction, and her behaviors and mannerisms were mostly dog-like. She sniffed at her food before she ate, growled, panted with her tongue out, ran on all fours, bared her teeth and barked like a wild dog. She also had powerful senses of hearing, smell, and sight. Oxana was taken into intensive therapy where learn basic social and verbal skills but only with the ability of a five-year-old. She now lives in a clinic in Odessa and works with the hospital’s farm animals under the supervision of her. She says she’s at her best when surrounded by animals.
4. Bello, “the Nigerian Chimp Boy”
His exact age was unknown, but he was estimated to be about two years old when Bello was found with a family of chimpanzees. He was believed to have been adopted and raised by chimpanzees for about a year before he was discovered in the Falgore forest, 150 km south of Kano in northern Nigeria in 1996. He was physically and mentally disabled which could be why his parents abandoned him at a very tender age of about six months. This practice is not uncommon for this nomadic Fulani tribe who range vast distances with their animals across the West African Sahel region.
When Bello was first discovered, he took on many chimpanzee mannerisms and animalistic gestures as expected. He used his legs but dragged his arms along on the ground. He would trouble other kids in the dormitory at night leaping about and smashing and throwing things. He was rehabilitated at Tudun Maliki Torrey, a home for displaced children in Kano, Nigeria. Six years down the line Bello had improved but still leaped around, repeatedly clapped his cupped hands over his head, grunted and hooted liked a chimpanzee. In 2005, Bello died, and the cause of death was unknown.
5. Dina Sanichar, the Indian Wolf Boy
In the jungles of Bulandshahr, hunters were astonished to see a boy running on all fours followed a wolf into her den in 1867. They smoked out the wolf, shot it and took Dina Sanichar who was about the age of six. He was raised at the Sekandra orphanage.
He behaved liked a wild animal and exhibited animalistic traits. He would tear off clothes and ate his food from the ground. He only ate raw meats and was addicted to tobacco. Before his death in 1895, Dina Sanichar was able to eat cooked food, but he was never able to speak.
6. Rochom P’ngieng, Cambodian Jungle Girl
The so-called Cambodian Jungle girl is a Cambodian woman who emerged from the jungle in Ratanakiri province, Cambodia on January 13, 2007. A family in a nearby village claimed that the woman was their daughter Rochom Pn’gieng (born 1979) age 29 or 30 who had disappeared 18 or 19 years previously; the story was covered in most media as one of a feral child who lived in the jungle for most of her life.
She came to international attention after emerging filthy, naked and scared from the dense jungle of Ratanakiri province in remote northeastern Cambodia on January 13, 2007. After a villager noticed food missing from a lunch box, he staked out the area, spotted the woman, gathered some friends and caught her.
She was recognized by her father, policeman Ksor Lu long, because of a scar on her back. He said Rochom P’ngieng was lost in the Cambodian jungle at the age of eight when herding buffalo with her six-year-old sister (who also disappeared). One week after being discovered, she experienced difficulties adjusting to civilized life. Local police reported that she was only able to say three words: “father,” “mother” and “stomachache.” A Spanish psychologist who visited the girl reported that she “made some words and smiled in response to a game involving toy animals and a mirror” but did not speak any recognizable language. When she was thirsty or hungry, she pointed at her mouth. She preferred to crawl rather than walk upright. The family watched Rochom P’ngieng around the clock to make sure she did not run off back to the jungle, as she tried to do several times. Her mother always had to pull back on the clothes when she decided to take them off. A visiting Guardian reporter described the family as genuinely caring for her and the woman as listless and sad but restless at night. In May 2010, Rochom P’ngieng fled back to the jungle. Despite the searching, they have not managed to recover her.
7. Traian Caldarar, the Romanian Dog Boy
Traian Caldarar is a Romanian boy who lived wild, separated from his family, for three years. He is believed to have left the family home because of domestic violence. ”Although aged seven when he was found, Traian Caldarar was only the size of a three-year-old, could not speak, and was naked and living in a cardboard box covered with a polyethylene sheet.
He suffered from severe rickets, had infected injuries, and his circulation was poor, possibly because of frostbite. Doctors believe it would have been impossible for Traian to survive on his own and speculated that he received assistance from the many stray dogs in the Transylvanian countryside. He was found near the body of a dog that he had been eating.
Traian Caldarar was found after the car of a shepherd, Manolescu Ioan, broke down. Mr. Ioan had to walk from his pastures and came across a child who he reported to police, who later captured the boy. Traian walked with the bandy gait of a chimpanzee and tried to sleep under his bed rather than on it. Dr. Mircea Florea said: “He was found in an animal position and his movements are animalistic. The facts show that he was not brought up in a social environment. He becomes very agitated when he does not have food. He is looking for something to eat all the time. He sleeps after he eats.”
8. John Ssebunya, the Ugandan Monkey Boy
Life could not have started worse for John Ssebunya. Kabongo Born in a village near Bombo, Uganda, and with only two years witnessed his father murder his mother and, fearing for his life, fled to the jungle, where they lose all contact with society.
The fact of his disappearance, the absence of a family who denounced, was forgotten for years. Three years later, in 1991, a woman from a nearby tribe, while searching for some food in the jungle, he met a young boy of 5 years. Immediately returned to the village to inform the rest of the tribe to find, and there were several who returned to the scene, where they saw not only a child reluctant to go with them, but a whole family of monkeys fighting throwing sticks and stones to prevent the child is carried.
For three years, John Ssebunya had been raised and adopted by a family of monkeys, which were later identified as green vervet, which not only allowed him to join his group but also taught him all their customs, as well as methods required for jungle survival. Finally, they managed to take John to a nearby Christian orphanage. At that time, John suffered from hypertrichosis, a fairly common in feral children, his body was full of scars and wounds, not tolerate cooked food and its brands in the knees showed he had not yet learned to walk. Over eight years, John has adapted to human customs, learning to walk and disappearing further its hypertrichosis.
9. The Syrian Gazelle Boy
A boy aged around ten was found in the midst of a herd of gazelles in the Syrian desert and was only caught with the help of an Iraqi army jeep because he could run at speeds of up to 50 kph. Although thin, he was said to have been extremely fit and healthy, with muscles of steel. He was captured and bound hand and foot.
Armen says the Syrian Gazelle-Boy was still alive in 1955 when he (the boy) made an attempt to escape from whichever unpleasant state institution he was incarcerated in. I won’t offend your sensibilities by telling you what they did to him to stop him escaping again.
The Life Magazine story of 9 September 1946 agrees pretty much with the other reports. It states that the previous month, a group of hunters found a boy running wild with a herd of gazelles in the Syrian steppes. About 10 – 14 years old at the time of discovery, he was believed to have been abandoned as a baby. He was taken to an asylum for the insane. Sunday Express puts the same story but says boy’s speed of 50 mph, not 50 kph.
10. Marina Chapman, Columbia, 1959
Marina was kidnapped in 1954 at five years of age from a remote South American village and left by her kidnappers in the jungle. She lived with a family small, capuchin monkeys for five years before hunters discovered her. She ate berries, roots and bananas dropped by the monkeys; slept in holes in trees and walked on all fours, like the monkeys. One time, she got terrible food poisoning. An elderly monkey led her to a pool of water and forced her to drink, she vomited and began to recover. She was befriended by the young monkeys and learned from them to climb trees and what was safe to eat. She would sit in the trees, play, and groom with them. Marina had lost her language entirely by the time hunters rescued her.
She was sold by the hunters into a brothel, escaped and lived as a street urchin. Next, she was enslaved by a mafia-style family, before being saved by a neighbor, who sent her to Bogot to live with her daughter and son-in-law. They adopted Marina alongside their five natural children. When Marina reached her mid-teens, she was offered a job as a housekeeper and nanny by another family member. The family with Marina moved to Bradford, Yorkshire in the UK in 1977, where she settled. She married and had children. Marina and her younger daughter, Vanessa James, co-authored a book about her feral experiences, and those afterward – The Girl With No Name.