Feral Children : Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Feral Children : Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Lobo Wolf Girl, Mexico, 1845-1852

Did you know that feral children exist? But look, who is a feral child in the first place? A feral child is a wild human child who has spent his entire life, since a very young age in isolation from human contact. Most of the feral children to have lived survived in the midst of wild animals, domestic animals or in deep forests. They have little or no experience of human behavior, care, affectionate or even language. Here is a detailed list of some of the feral children recorded in history; a photoshot has also been preserved for future referencing and historical benefits.

One of the world’s acclaimed photographer, Julia Fullerton-Batten has an updated record of these wild human children, their live experience and how they ended being isolated in the society. Here are some disturbing yet touching cases of feral children.

Oxana Malaya

Oxana Malaya is a Ukrainian girl who was found in 1991, living comfortably with dogs in a farm kennel. By the time she was found, she was eight years and had lived with the dogs for six years. It is reported that both of her parents being alcoholic left her outside in one of the cold nights.

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Oxana Malaya, Ukraine, 1991

She was only three and looking for warmth when she successfully crawled into the kennel. She curled up with the dogs and lucky had her life spared. Both parents being inhumane enough, left Oxana in the farm kennel since the very day. She exhibited the dog live; ran on all her four legs, bared her teeth, panted with her mouth open and barked occasionally. She barely talked and understood the Yes and No letters. After her adoption, she was cared for and taken to a clinic in Odessa.


This is yet another controversial feral children case of an Indian young boy who was found in the year 1972 in the middle of the forest. He was not just found in the forest, but busy enjoying the company of wolf cubs. His age was estimated to be four years with a very dark outer skin, a sharpened set of teeth with long hooked fingernails.

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Shamdeo, INDIA, 1972

The matted hair depicted the absence of human character; he callused on his palms, knees, and elbows. To an utter surprise, he was used to hunting chicken; he would eat raw earth and had a craving for fresh blood. Shamdeo had a strong bond with dogs, never spoke but learned a bit of sign language. Shamdeo died in 1985 with an estimated age of 17.

Kamala and Amala, India, 1920

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Kamala and Amala, India, 1920

Kamala, 8 years old, and Amala, 1, were found in 1920 in a wolves’ den. It is one of the most famous cases of feral children. Pre-advised, they were found by a Reverend, Joseph Singh, who hid in a tree above the cave where they had been seen. When the wolves left the cave he saw two figures look out of the cave. The girls were hideous looking, ran on all fours and didn’t look human. He soon captured the girls.

When first caught, the girls slept curled up together, growled, tore off their clothing, ate nothing but raw meat, and howled. Physically deformed, their tendons and the joints in their arms and legs were shortened. They had no interest in interacting with humans. But, their hearing, sight and sense of smell was exceptional.

Amala died the following year after their capture. Kamala eventually learned to walk upright and say a few words, but died in 1929 of kidney failure, 17 years old

Prava (The Bird Boy), Russia, 2008

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Prava (The Bird Boy), Russia, 2008

Prava, a seven-year-old boy, was found in a tiny, two-bedroom apartment, living with his 31-year old mother – but he was confined in a room filled with bird cages, containing dozens of his mother’s pet birds, bird feed and droppings. She treated her son as another pet. He was never physically harmed, she neither beat him nor left him without food, but she never spoke to him. His only communication was with the birds. He could not speak, but chirped. When he wasn’t understood he would wave his arms and hands bird-like.

Released into child care by his mother, Prava was moved to a centre for psychological care where doctors are trying to rehabilitate him.

Madina, Russia, 2013

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction 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.

Marina Chapman, Columbia, 1959

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Marina Chapman, Columbia, 1959

Marina Chapman is also another feral children and well studied cases.Marina was kidnapped in 1954 at 5 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 she was discovered by hunters. 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 bad 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 completely by the time she was rescued by hunters. 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 neighbour, 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, Yorksire 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 afterwards – The Girl With No Name.

The Leopard Boy, India, 1912

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction The Leopard Boy, India, 1912

Again a case of feral children from India. The boy child was two years old when he was taken by a leopardess in 1912. Three years later a hunter killed the leopardess and found three cubs, one of which was the now five year old boy. 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.

John Ssebunya (The Monkey Boy), Uganda, 1991

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction John Ssebunya (The Monkey Boy), Uganda, 1991

This one also a well documented case of feral children. John ran away from home in 1988 when he was three years old after seeing his father murder his mother. He fled into the jungle where he lived with monkeys. He was captured in 1991, now about six years old, and placed in an orphanage.

When he was cleaned up it was found that his entire body was covered in hair. His diet had consisted mainly of roots, nuts, sweet potatoes and cassava and he had developed a severe case of intestinal worms, found to be over half a metre long. He had calluses on his knees from walking like a monkey.

John has learned to speak and human ways. He was found to have a fine singing voice and is famous for singing and touring in the UK with the 20-strong Pearl of Africa children’s choir.

Sujit Kumar (The Chicken Boy), Fiji, 1978

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Sujit Kumar (The Chicken Boy), Fiji, 1978

Sujit exhibited dysfunctional behaviour as a child and his parents locked him in a chicken coop. Sujit’s mother committed suicide and his father was murdered. His grandfather took responsibility for him but still kept him confined in the chicken coop.

He was eight years old when he was found in the middle of a road, clucking and flapping. He pecked at his food, crouched on a chair as if roosting, and would make rapid clicking noises with his tongue. His fingers were turned inward. He was taken to an old people’s home by care workers, but there, because he was so aggressive, he was tied with bed sheets to his bed for over 20 years. Now he is over 30 years old and is cared for by Elizabeth Clayton, who rescued him from the home.

Rochom P’ngien (Jungle Girl), Cambodia, 2007

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Rochom P’ngien (Jungle Girl), Cambodia, 2007

Rochom was a grown woman when she was caught in January, 2007 after stealing food from a villager’s lunch box. A village policeman claimed that she was his 27 years old daughter – he recognized a prominent scar on her back – who, in 1988 at eight years of age, went missing with her 6-year old sister while herding water buffalo. It was assumed that they got lost in the jungle. The sister was never found.

When Rochom was captured she was naked, filthy and scarred. She could not talk. If she was thirsty or hungry, she would point at her mouth. She preferred to crawl on all fours rather than walk upright.

Rochom had difficulty in a adjusting to civilisation. In February 2008, she disappeared for a few days but then returned. By July 2008, she could feed, bathe and dress herself but still could not speak. She was hospitalised in October 2009 as she refused to eat. By December that year she was eating again, was generally improving, and had started to understand and use some words of their native language.

On 25 May 2010, Rochom went to take a bath in the well behind their house but did not return. In early June, she was found in a 10 m deep latrine in the village. She took to living and sleeping in a small chicken coop near the family’s home, but would join the family for meals every three or four days. She still could not speak.

Victor (The Wild Boy of Aveyron), France, 1797

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Victor (The Wild Boy of Aveyron), France, 1797

This is a historical but surprisingly well-documented case of a feral children, as he was very much researched at the time to attempt to find the derivation of language. Victor was seen at the end of the 18th century in the woods of Saint Sernin sur Rance, in the south of France and captured but somehow escaped. In January 8, 1800 he was caught again. He was about 12 years old, his body covered in scars and unable to speak a word. Once the news of his capture spread, many came forward wanting to examine him.

Little is known about the background of his time as a feral child, but it is believed that he spent 7 years in the wild. A biology professor examined Victor’s resistance to cold by sending him naked outside in the snow. Victor showed no effect of the cold temperature on him whatsoever.

Others tried to teach him to speak and behave ‘normally’, but made no progress. He was probably able to talk and hear earlier in his life, but he was never able to do so after returning from the wild. Eventually he was taken to an institution in Paris and died at the age of 40.

Genie, USA, 1970

Feral Children Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Genie, USA, 1970

When she was a toddler Genie’s father decided she was ‘retarded’ and restrained her in a child’s toilet seat in a small room of the house. Genie lived in solitary confinement for more 10 years and even slept in the chair. She was 13 years old in 1970 when she and her mother turned up at child services and a social worker noticed her condition. At that time she was still not toilet trained and moved with a strange sideways ‘bunny-walk’. She couldn’t speak or make any sound and constantly spat and clawed herself.

For years she became a research object. She gradually learned to speak a few words but couldn’t arrange them grammatically. She also began to read simple texts, and developed a limited form of social behaviour.

At one stage, she briefly lived again with her mother, but was then for several years passed through various foster homes experiencing abuse and harassment. She returned to a children’s hospital where it was found that she had regressed back to silence.Funding for Genie’s treatment and research was stopped in 1974 and it wasn’t known what happened to her, until a private investigator located her in a private facility for mentally underdeveloped adults.

Nothing goes better than a bunch of sincere gratitude to the all-round, caring and affectionate of Julia Fullerton-Batten and her dedicated efforts in compiling the well-photographed recreated images depicting the incidents of these unlucky feral children from the various part of world, is  a noteworthy and commendable job.

All above images courtesy of Julia Fullerton-Batten

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