Lobo Wolf Girl Of Devil’s River, 1845-1852
In 1835, settlers John and Molly Dent were passing through a part of Texas now known as Devil’s River. Mrs. Dent was heavily pregnant and went into labor during a fierce storm. Her husband went to seek help, but was struck by lightening. Rescuers later found Mrs. Dent dead, having given birth. The infant was missing and there were wolf tracks surrounding the site, so no thorough search was conducted. Ten years later, a boy near San Felipe Springs supposedly saw a girl who traveled with a pack of wolves, hunting and eating livestock with them. She was captured but escaped. In 1852, she was seen yet again suckling two wolf cubs, but she ran into the woods. She was never seen again.
Oxana Malaya, Ukraine, 1991
In 1986, three-year-old Ukrainian Oxana Malaya was left outside during a snowstorm by a pair of alcoholic parents. Young Oxana managed to walk into a nearby hovel where she was taken in by a pack of dogs. For some reason, her parents never actually went to retrieve their daughter, and the young girl was raised by the domestic canines for the next five years, until a neighbor reported the situation to authorities.
These days, the 33-year-old works with cows on a farm at the mental facility where she resides. Though she’s become somewhat comfortable with people, telling jokes and speaking regularly, she reportedly still favors the company of creatures to people.
Shamdeo, INDIA, 1972
Shamdeo, a boy aged about four years old, was discovered in a forest in India in 1972. He was playing with wolf cubs. His skin was very dark, and he had sharpened teeth, long hooked fingernails, matted hair and calluses on his palms, elbows and knees. He was fond of chicken-hunting, would eat earth and had a craving for blood. He bonded with dogs.
He was finally weaned off eating raw meat, never talked, but learnt some sign language. In 1978 he was admitted to Mother Theresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Lucknow, where he was re-named Pascal. He died in February 1985.
Prava (The Bird Boy), Russia, 2008
A seven-year-old Russian boy named Prava wasn’t exactly abandoned by his mother, a 31-year-old Russian woman, but his life may have gone a little smoother had he been. Before he was discovered in 2008, the young man had been raised entirely as a bird.
According to Russian newspaper Pravda, the boy’s mother was infatuated with birds. She had a large collection of domestic birds and regularly fed wild birds, as well. As her son grew, she refused to speak to him or let him out of the apartment. Instead, she treated him just like one of her birds. As a result, when he was found by authorities at age seven, he was only able to communicate in bird chirps.
The boy was taken from his mother’s care and sent to live in a psychological care facility.
Marina Chapman, Colombia, 1959
In 1959, Marina Chapman was kidnapped from her rural Colombian home and driven into the jungle. There, she was abandoned for apparently no reason. After hours of wandering and weeping, she managed to stumble upon a group of what are thought to be capuchin monkeys. Chapman followed the clan for days, learning to scavenge like they did, and surviving thanks to their help. At one point, one of the elder members of the family even helped save Chapman’s life when she got food poisoning.
Over time, Chapman began to miss human contact. Unfortunately, the first people she chose to reveal herself to sold her to a brothel. It was years before she was able to escape into the city streets by working as a domestic servant in people’s homes. Fortunately, these days Chapman is at the head of an extensive family of her own, having put the horrors of her life behind her.
To this day, Chapman says that she owes her life to the little family of monkeys that helped keep her alive.
Madina, Russia, 2013
Madina lived with dogs from birth until she was 3 years old, sharing their food, playing with them, and sleeping with them when it was cold in winter. When social workers found her in 2013, she was naked, walking on all fours and growling like a dog.
Madina’s father had left soon after her birth. Her mother, 23 years old, took to alcohol. She was frequently too drunk to look after for her child and often disappeared. She would frequently invite local alcoholics to visit the house. Her alcoholic mother would sit at the table to eat while her daughter gnawed bones on the floor with the dogs. Madina would run away to a local playground when her mother got angry, but the other children wouldn’t play with her as she could hardly speak and would fight with everyone. So dogs became her best and only friends.
Doctors reported that the Madina is mentally and physically healthy despite her ordeal. There is a good chance that she will have a normal life once she has learned to speak more in line with a child of her age.
Genie, USA, 1970
Okay, this is kind of a cheat, because the woman who was identified as Genie by the people who researched her wasn’t technically raised by animals. Technically.
When authorities in California first caught wind of Genie in 1970, it was only because her mother walked into the wrong doctor’s office and a physician noticed something fishy about the kid’s behavior. As it happens, welfare employees discovered that her father regularly kept the girl tied to a chair in a silent room from the time she was a toddler. She was beaten if she cried, spoke, or made any noise.
As a result, the young woman was unable to make any kind of noise or interaction for a large majority of her life. The time period in which she was found combined with diminishing interest in her story meant that Genie slipped into bureaucratic obscurity shortly after her initial brush with fame.
The Leopard Boy, India, 1912
The story of “Leopard Boy” can be found in the recordings of British ornithologist and police officer E.C. Stuart Baker. A January 1, 1921 article in the Schenectady Gazette describes a scenario where Stuart was overseeing a pool of forced laborers mending a road near the village of Dhunghi. One man approached Stuart and said that if he were forced to work, no one would be able to look after his feral son and the boy would run back to the jungle. The man produced a boy who squatted on all fours and appeared to have some form of cataracts on his eyes.
According the story told in the paper, the boy had been stolen by a leopard as an infant and assumed dead. Instead, he was found with her cubs when the animal was killed three years later.
He was returned to his family in the small village in India. When first caught he would only squat and ran on all fours as fast as an adult man could do upright. His knees were covered with hard callouses, his toes were bent upright almost at right angles to his instep, and his palms, toe- and thumb-pads were covered with a tough, horny skin. He bit and fought with everyone who approached him, and caught and ate the village fowl raw. He could not speak, uttering only grunts and growls.
Later he had learned to speak and walked more upright. Sadly he became gradually blind from cataracts. However, this was not caused by his experiences in the jungle, but was an illness common in the family.
Sujit Kumar Chicken Boy, Fiji, 1978
In 1977, Sujit Kumar’s mother committed suicide. Then, the six-year-old’s father was murdered. As a result, he was left in the care of his grandfather, who locked the poor boy in a chicken coop for four years. What’s worse, when he was found, he was sent to an asylum, where they tied him to the bed for the next 20 years.
When he was found in Fiji by philanthropist Elizabeth Clayton in 2004, she says that when she first encountered the boy, “he pecked at his food and would crouch down as if roosting. His fingers turn inward from scratching around in the dirt, he communicates by making a rapid clicking noise with his tongue and he seems detached from much that goes on around him.”
These days, Kumar is able to stand upright, and he’s attending school, but the damage of his previous abuse is still a huge part of his life.
Kamala and Amala, India, 1920
One of the most well-documented cases of children raised by wild animals is that of Kamala and Amala, better known as the “wolf children.” Discovered in 1920 in the jungles of Godamuri, India, the girls, aged 3 and about 8, had been living with a she-wolf and her pack.
It’s not known if the girls were from the same family, but the man who found the girls, Reverend J.A.L. Singh, took them back to his orphanage, where he tried to get them accustomed to their human surroundings. While the girls made some progress over the years, both eventually came down with fatal illnesses, leaving the reverend to wonder “if the right thing to do would have been to leave these children in the wild where I found them.”
Ivan Mishukov, Russia, 1998
Born in 1992, Ivan Mishukov lived with wolves between 4 and 6 years old. He ran away from home trying to escape the alcoholic and abusive boyfriend of his mother. He entered the ranks of a feral dog pack. Ivan gained the dogs’ trust by providing them with food, and in return he was protected by the pack. Eventually he was made pack leader. He was taken by the police three times and subsequently escaped, helped by the pack. He was ultimately captured by leaving lots of food outside of a restaurant. He relearned language fairly rapidly.
But the thing is, it was pointless to try to explain to him that human society is better than the dog pack – because clearly for him, it wasn’t. He was living in a dog pack, and they loved and appreciated him – and he clearly felt that. The winters in Moscow are extremely harsh, and the dogs clearly helped him get through the severe weather and difficult conditions. But the most extraordinary part of it is the dogs must have taught him love and emotional support – arguably, it means they civilized him.
John Ssebunya (The Monkey Boy), Uganda, 1991
In the mid-1980s, as Uganda was in the throes of a violent civil war, young John Ssebunya was a mere toddler of two. One night, in a fit of rage, John’s father killed his mother, prompting the terrified child to flee into the jungle. There he stayed for the next year, surviving only thanks to the benevolence of a group of monkeys.
A few days into his feral life, Ssebunya was approached by a small family of monkeys who offered him roots, nuts, sweet potatoes, and cassava. Ssebunya also learned his behavior from the monkeys (for example, as a boy, he’d rarely meet people’s eyes). Fortunately, though, John survived and was raised by a new family. And though he’s happy where he is, John explains that he feels fortunate to have been found by the group of monkeys who would become his short-lived family.
“I am grateful, yes, I am,” he says. “Because… not because of love from them, from the monkeys. But because what they did made it possible for me to be loved by other people, by humans.”
Victor (The Wild Boy of Aveyron), France, 1797
In 1797, 12-year-old Victor was found wandering the wilderness of France. He was captured twice over the next year, but he escaped quickly both times. In 1800, the 15-year-old emerged from the woods of his own accord.
Because schools for the deaf tended to specialize in helping people speak, the mute teenager was sent to a facility for deaf people. There, he was taken into the care of Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, who began to work with the boy. Unfortunately, Victor proved nearly incapable of learning to speak (he only ever learned two words). Itard’s studies were the first indication that the human brain has a natural cutoff in which the fundamentals of language needed to be imprinted.
Oh, also, a monk once took Victor out in the snow when the kid was bare-assed, apparently for reasons of scientific inquiry (suuuuuuuuure.) Surprisingly, though, Victor loved it, running and jumping through the snow happily.
A toddler kept alive by cats, 2008
Argentinean police discovered an abandoned 1-year-old boy surrounded by eight wild cats in 2008. They observed that as they approach the child, the cats became very protective and even aggressive. The police found that the cats had been keeping the child alive during the harsh winter, by constantly licking him and by staying on top of him, like a living blanket.
To make things even more touching, they even brought him scraps of food, which they would not eat and save for him. Had it not been for the cats, the toddler would have not made it through the winter. The boy, who had been living with the cats for “several days,” apparently became separated from his homeless father while the latter was collecting cardboard to sell. The man later told the police that cats always had been protective of his son. I couldn’t find out anything about their current whereabouts, but hopefully, they at least have a roof above their heads.
The mere fact that these feral cats were capable of bestowing compassion upon a member of an unrelated species should raise some big question marks to those advocating the killing of feral populations.
Ng Chhaidy Was Missing for Nearly 40 Years Before She Was Found, 2012
Perhaps one of the most spectacular cases of feral children – and adults – is Ng Chhaidy. She went missing in 1974 at the age of 4, going into the jungle, and was only seen after 38 years, in 2012. Local communities have been hearing rumors about a jungle girl for years, but they always dismissed it as gossip. She went missing in India, close to the border with Myanmar, and was later found in Myanmar, living naked in a cemetery.
But what’s perhaps even more remarkable is that for someone who lived in the jungle for basically all her life, she’s very human-like. She can talk (in a simple fashion), she learns new words, and she is not particularly shy of human interaction. Her family hasn’t allowed any medical or psychological attention, so there is no clear evaluation on her state.
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja – a life as a wolf, a life as a man
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja is a noted feral child. He was reportedly sold to a hermitic goatherder at the age of seven, but soon found himself alone in the mountains. Having suffered years of beatings from his stepmother, he preferred the solitude of the mountains to the thought of human company. His story is a very special one, not only because he lived for 12 years in the wild with the wolves and other animals, but also because he spent a lot of time trying to integrate into society (he is 68 years old today), and was only partly successful.
Raised by goats, 2012
In June 2012, social workers in Russia discovered a toddler who had been locked in a room with goats by his mother. The boy reportedly played and slept with the goats, but nourishment was apparently hard to come by as he weighed a third less than a typical child of his age.
atsWhen the child was rescued, his mother had disappeared. Doctors have since tried to acclimate the toddler to human life, with some difficulty. “He refused to sleep in the cot. He tried to get underneath and sleep there. He was very scared of adults,” one doctor said.
Raised by feral cats and dogs, 2009
In 2009, welfare workers were led to an unheated flat in a Siberian town where they found a 5-year-old girl they called “Natasha.” While technically living with her father and other relatives, Natasha was treated like one of the many dogs and feral cats that shared the space.
Like her furry companions, Natasha lapped up food from bowls left on the floor. She didn’t know any human words and only communicated with hisses and barks. The father was nowhere to be found when authorities rescued the girl, and Natasha has since been placed in an orphanage.
John Of Liege, 1664
The story of John of Liège dates back to a 1644 account by Sir Kenelm Digby. Digby described a 21-year-old man who was caught trying to steal food from a farm. The man originally fled to the woods at the age of five to escape the fighting of civil war, but never returned to civilization. Instead, he spent the years in the forest, surviving off roots and berries.
Marie Angelique Memmie Le Blanc (The Wild Girl of Champagne), France, 1731
Apart from her childhood, Memmie’s story from the 18th century is surprisingly well-documented. For ten years, she walked thousands of miles alone through the forests of France. She ate birds, frogs, and fish, leaves, branches, and roots.
Armed with a club, she fought off wild animals, especially wolves. She was captured, aged 19, black-skinned, hairy and with claws. When Memmie knelt down to drink water she made repeated sideways glances, the result of being in a state of constant alertness. She couldn’t speak and could communicate only with shrieks and squeaks. She skinned rabbits and birds and ate them raw. For years she did not eat cooked food. Her thumbs were malformed as she used them to dig out roots and swing from tree to tree like a monkey.
In 1737, the Queen of Poland, mother to the French queen, and on a journey to France, took Memmie hunting with her, where she still ran fast enough to catch and kill rabbits. Memmie’s recovery from her decade-long experience in the wild was remarkable.
She had a series of rich patrons, learned to read, write and speak French fluently. In 1747 she became a nun for a while, but was hit by a falling window and her patron died soon thereafter. She became ill and destitute but again found a rich patron. In 1755 a Madame Hecquet published her biography. Memmie died financially well-off in Paris in 1775, aged 63.
Dina Sanichar the wolf boy
Dina Sanichar’s story is similar to that of Amala and Kamala. He was also found with wolves in a cave, this time in the Bulandshahr region of India. Hunters believed him to be an animal at first, but found a six-year-old boy instead. He was taken to an orphanage in Agra, but never assimilated to human society, preferring bones and raw meat to cooked food. He died in 1895.
Wolf Children Of WWII
German orphans at the end of WWII were known as “wolf children” in areas of Poland and the Soviet Union for their wolf-like, feral wanderings through the wilderness. In 1945, hundreds of wolf children scoured the woods and roads of Prussia, having been orphaned by the advancement of the Red Army. Many of them died of cold or starvation, but others were taken in by sympathetic Lithuanians in rural areas.
A Feral Girl In India That Was Raised By Monkeys, 2017
In 2017, authorities in India found a girl who couldn’t speak or behave like humans living among a troop of monkeys. The girl was spotted by an inspector at the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, and has since been dubbed the Mowgli girl after the main character from the Jungle Book. When he approached the girl, she was unable to understand or speak to him, and “seemed comfortable with the apes,” according to an Indian newspaper.
The girl, who appeared to be about eight years old when she was discovered, is allegedly frightened by the sight of other people and even walks like a monkey. Authorities are unsure who she is, where she came from, and how long she’s been living among the animals.
She is progressing very slowly.
The girl can neither speak nor understands any language, and gets scared at the sight of human beings. The doctors treating her said that she often gets violent.
The girl has shown improvement following the treatment, but the improvement has been very slow. She still eats directly from her mouth. While she has been trained to walk on her legs, at times she walks like animals using her hands and legs together.