A feral child is often defined as an abandoned or confined human child taken away from any type of human interaction or communication because of some sort of situation. As a result, these children often lack social skills; even something as simple as speaking can be a skill they never learn. Many of these kids are ‘raised’ by other means (usually animals). They simply learn from what they see around them, just as a child would under normal circumstances; it is what they learn that is very different. Here we’ll only be discussing some cases of children raised by animals in the wild.
On this Article
- Oxana Malaya, The Ukrainian Dog Girl
- Marina Chapman, raised by monkeys
- The Russian Bird Boy
- Rochom P’ngieng, Cambodian Jungle Girl
- Traian Caldarar, the Romanian Dog Boy
- john Ssebunya, the Ugandan Monkey Boy
- Bello, the Nigerian Chimp Boy
- The Syrian Gazelle Boy
- Daniel, The Andes Goat Boy
- Kamala and Amala, the Wolf Girls of Midnapore
- Dina Sanichar, the Indian Wolf Boy
Oxana Malaya, The Ukrainian Dog Girl
Left to live in a kennel by her abusive and neglectful parents from the ages of 3 to 8, Oxana Malaya grew up with no other company than the dogs she shared the kennel with. When she was found in 1991, she was unable to speak, choosing only to bark, and ran around on all fours. Now in her 20s, Malaya has been taught to speak but remains cognitively impaired. She has found some peace caring for cows that reside on a farm near the mental institution where she lives.
Marina Chapman, raised by monkeys
Marina was kidnapped, probably for ransom, but was then abandoned in the Colombian jungle. She was lucky enough to be adopted by a group of capuchin monkeys, which are known to accept human children in their groups. The animals taught young Marina how to catch birds and rabbits with her bare hands, so she was able to survive and take care of herself. After five years, she was “rescued” by hunters, who found her and sold her to a brothel. At that point, she had no human language. She ran away from the brothel, lived on the streets and became a slave to the mafia family. Through some connections she made and some luck, she managed to get to Bradford as a nanny, where she met her future husband and established a family.
The story is so surprising that many scientists doubted it. However, Carlos Conde, a professor in Colombia, stated that he did a test using Chapman’s reactions to photos of her adopted family and pictures of capuchin monkeys that proved that Chapman was telling the truth.
The Russian Bird Boy
A seven-year-old boy who can only communicate by chirping after his mother raised him as a pet bird has been rescued by Russian care-workers. Reports in Russian media claim the child, suffering from “Mowgli syndrome”, was found in a tiny two-room apartment that appeared to double as an aviary, filled with cages containing dozens of birds, bird feed and bird droppings.
Social worker Galina Volskaya, who helped rescue the “bird-boy” from his home in Kirovsky, Volgograd, told Russian newspaper Pravda that he was treated like another pet by his 31-year-old mother. Because she never spoke to him, Ms Volskaya explained, the boy’s only communication was with the birds he was surrounded by. “When you start talking to him,” she said, “he chirps.”
Russian authorities say the child was not physically harmed but is suffering from “Mowgli syndrome”, named after the Jungle Book character raised by wild animals, and cannot engage in any normal human communication.
Rochom P’ngieng, Cambodian Jungle Girl
Rochom P’ngieng, who disappeared in 1988 while herding water buffaloes when she was 8-years-old. Her family had given up searching thinking she is dead, but she was found by a team of tree-loggers, standing naked on the edge of a clearing in 2007. There were reports that she was accompanied by a long-haired naked man, but if that ‘Tarzan’ had ever existed he was never found. Communication with the girl has proved virtually impossible, apart from sign language. When she was hungry, she simply patted her stomach. She has also found readjusting to normal life difficult. She has resisted wearing clothes and bathing, fending him off by shouting and screaming. A family in Un came forward to say that the frightened woman, who could not speak, was their lost child – and they said they were able to identify her by a scar on her arm from an old knife wound accidentally sustained.
Traian Caldarar, the Romanian Dog Boy
Traian Caldarar is a Romanian boy who apparently 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 polyethene 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 apparently 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.”
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 found 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.
Bello, the Nigerian Chimp Boy
(image above is not real Bello)
Bello, the Nigerian Chimp Boy was found in 1996, at the age of about two. Both mentally and physically disabled, he had probably been abandoned by his parents at the age of about six months, a common practice with disabled children among the Fulani, a nomadic people who range great distances over the west African Sahel region.
Believed to have been adopted and raised by chimpanzees, Bello was found with a chimpanzee family in the Falgore forest, 150 km south of Kano in northern Nigeria. When the story reached the news agencies some six years later in 2002, Bello had been living at the Tudun Maliki Torrey home in Kano.
When first discovered, Bello walked like a chimpanzee, using his legs but dragging his arms on the ground. He would leap about at night in the dormitory, disturbing the other children, smashing and throwing things. Six years later Bello was much calmer, but would still leap around in a chimpanzee-like fashion, make chimpanzee-like noises, and clap his cupped hands over his head repeatedly. Bello died in 2005.
The Syrian Gazelle Boy
A boy aged around 10 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 terribly thin, he was said to have been extremely fit and strong, 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.
Daniel, The Andes Goat Boy
The Andes Goat-Boy was found in the Andes, Peru, in 1990, and was said to have been raised by goats for eight years. He is supposed to have survived by drinking their milk, and eating roots and berries. Being in the wild, he developed the distinct feral characteristics.He tended to walk with all his 4 limbs, his hands and feet were hardened due to scar formation that acted like his hoofs. He could communicate with goats and could not learn human language.After being found, the Andes Goat-Boy was investigated by a team from Kansas University ( The University of Kansas or Kansas State University) and named Daniel.
Kamala and Amala, the Wolf Girls of Midnapore
Amala and Kamala were two girls found in Midnapore, in West Bengal (India) in 1920. They were living in a wolves’ den when a missioner called J.A.L. Singh was informed by a native who was terrified about the existence of a “kind of ghost” in the forest, and it needed an exorcism. When he Singh was trying to solve the mystery, he found two starving girls. The mother wolf defended them as if they were her own wolf cub. The wolf was killed by native people and the two girls, Amala and Kamala (3 and 6 years old) were taken to civilisation.
Dina Sanichar, the Indian Wolf Boy
Dina Sanichar, one of the boys who lived at the Sekandra orphanage, is usually assumed to have been mentally sub-normal. He was removed from a wolves’ cave in 1867 when he was about six years old. Dina Sanichar was discovered when hunters in the jungles of Bulandshahr were astonished to see a boy follow a wolf into her den, running on all fours. They smoked out the wolf and her companion and shot the wolf.He initially exhibited all the habits of a wild animal, tearing off clothes and eating food from the ground. He was eventually weaned off raw meat onto cooked but never did learn to speak. He apparently became addicted to tobacco. Dina Sanichar died in 1895.