Sometimes, life feels like an episode of South Park. Let’s explain. There is a woman in Norway who thinks she is a cat. The story came out last year. No, this isn’t someone who likes to wear ears and go to anime conventions. She’s someone who hisses at dogs, someone who thinks she sees better at night, and who has chosen to live her life as a cat. We get it. It’s 2017, and we’re “progressive.” People should be allowed to do what they want. But at what point do people unanimously say “give it a rest with this nonsense?” Maybe this trans-species thing will take off and thirty years from now, Tom Brady will come out and announce to the world that he’s chosen to live the rest of his days as a platypus.
Now, like we said earlier, this may all sound like an episode of South Park, because in the episode “Mr. Garrison’s Fancy New V*gina,” which deals with a transgender teacher, character Gerald Brofloski decides that he has always felt like a dolphin inside. So he pays a plastic surgeon thousands of dollars to make him look like one. Great episode! Instant classic. But really, there are people who take being “trans-species” seriously, and while this may be troubling to some people and delightful to others, I’m thoroughly entertained.
On a more serious note, however, few people realize that there are, every so often, kids out there who are abandoned and come to live among animals, picking up their mannerisms and habits. Whether they are abandoned by neglectful parents, are separated from their parents by circumstance, get abandoned because of mental or physical disabilities, or just happen to be victims of accidents, these “feral children” or “wild children” have been reported to end up walking around like animals, communicating like them, and have behaved like members of whatever species they were raised by. Here are fifteen crazy stories about feral kids who grew up with wild animals.
15. Mowgli Girl
This is the most recent instance of a child having been abandoned and found living with animals in the wild. There is some disagreement among those closest to the case as to how long she was living in the wild. Some have suggested that she was found just a few days after being abandoned, whereas others claim it had been longer. The fact that she was found with clothing on has cast near certainty that her time in the wild was not more than a few weeks or months at the most. She was discovered back in January, and only communicated through screeching at people and walked on all fours at the time. She was initially scared of adults. Doctors first thought that she was severely mentally disabled, but more recently, some psychologists claimed that her experience with monkeys in the wild just delayed her social development, and that she’s actually readjusting to life with humans fairly well.
14. Kamala And Amala
Kamala and Amala were two young Indian girls who were discovered living with a wolf family in the early 1920’s. They were rescued by a man in 1920, who took them to a local orphanage run by Reverend Joseph Amrito Lal Singh, who brought the story to light. Amala was just over a year old when she was found and died of a kidney infection at age two. Kamala was eight when she was found, but died of tuberculosis in 1929. Kamala did not speak any language and ate off the floor for much of her life.
There is serious skepticism about these two girls and whether or not their stories are partial or complete fabrications. Many scholars have argued that many of the conditions that were described by Singh sound more like congenital defects rather than the characteristics of children raised by wild animals.
13. Daniel The Andes Goat Boy
Researchers at the University of Kansas said that Daniel, a boy who survived for eight years with a family of goats in the Andes mountains in Peru, was likely abandoned in the wild around age four. He was adopted by this herd of goats and survived for those eight years primarily by learning to scavenge and drinking goat’s milk. He was found around age 12 and had no idea how to communicate with humans, but had learned to communicate with the goats. He walked on all fours and had extreme callouses built up on his hands and feet. There is no recent news on Daniel and it remains unclear how any attempts at reintroducing him to human society went.
12. Ethel Mthiyane
This feral child was named after the day he was found and the leader of the school he was put in after his discovery, Ethel Mthiyane. Nobody has been able to get much in the way of accurate information about this boy because he never caught on to any human languages. Back in 1987, he was found living with monkeys near Sundumbili, South Africa and taken to a school for children with disabilities, where he continued to behave like a monkey. According to experts, he spent a minimum of a year with the primates and after being confined to the school, he refused to play with other kids (often being violent toward them) and continued to steal and eat raw red meat whenever he could.
Some psychologists who were consulted argued that he was severely mentally disabled, but Ethel Mthiyane argued that he just hadn’t adapted to human society. Even until 2005, however, he wasn’t speaking and still hadn’t shown any indication of wanting anything to do with humans. He reportedly died in 2005, when the orphanage in which he was living caught fire.
11. Traian Caldarar
While some of these wild kids have not been seen or heard from for some time, and others didn’t live very long, the tale of Traian Caldarar is sad. But still, it had a fairly happy ending. Romanian but born in Poland, Traian’s mother fled their home in the late 1990’s having been regularly beaten by his father for some time. The child, only a toddler at the time, did the same shortly thereafter. He survived for three years and was apparently adopted by wild dogs. He was found in 2002 hiding out, nearly frozen to death in the wilderness. He was brought to an orphanage after being discovered. Since then, he had made a successful recovery, despite having somewhat stunted growth from years in the bush with minimal nourishment. He and his mother were reunited after she saw his story on the news. According to her, he readjusted to life among humans fairly quickly. However, it took some time to stop him from chasing cats into the street, something that nearly got him hurt or killed a few times. Miraculously, despite several instances of such behavior, he was never struck by a car.
10. Robert Mayanja
Known colloquially as the “monkey boy of Uganda,” little is known about Robert Mayanja’s early life. He was born in the early 1980’s, when Uganda was in a state of civil war. The war ended in 1986 with a victory for the National Resistance. Shortly before this event, a small group of soldiers found Robert with a pack of monkeys in the forest. While the exact dates are unknown, his parents likely died in 1982, which means three of his most important formative years were spent with apes.
He has been diagnosed as being autistic, and has been living with an NGO that specializes in housing people with special needs in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. He has learned some linguistic skills but cannot fully care for himself and still behaves like a chimp. The people who first rescued him said that using the toilet was a difficult lesson to learn.
9. Andrei Tolstyk
Were it not for social workers, who knows what would have happened to this boy. He was born in the Altai region in Russia, a beautiful mountainous area in the southern part of Siberia. Unfortunately for him, he was born to parents we’ll unapologetically call useless. His mother left the family when he was just a few months old and his alcoholic father abandoned him altogether just a few months later. In a large city, someone might have noticed but this region is sparsely populated and Andrei’s family lived on the outskirts of a tiny village.
Social workers came looking for him at age seven when he had not registered for school. They found a chronically undernourished child who had been kept alive through the efforts of a dog who had adopted him. He was taken to an orphanage in which the first things he learned included eating with utensils, walking on two legs, and making his bed, all of which he reportedly learned within two weeks.
8. Vanya Yudin “The Russian Bird Boy”
In the cases of parents who died or lost track of their kids because of accidents, we can’t pass harsh judgment. However, the mother of Vanya Yudin is someone any parent can probably despise. She and her son lived in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in Volgograd, Russia and had nearly no interaction at all. Apparently, she was a fan of birds, but not her son. So what she did was lock him in the room with the birds for nearly his entire life until he reached the age of eight. He was rescued from these conditions in 2008 and could not speak. He would chirp like a bird and flap his arms as if to fly, but showed no human behavior. He was taken away from his mother to be rehabilitated.
7. Sasha T
At age two, “Sasha T” was rescued by social workers in Shakhty, a town in western Russia. He was found in a room with several goats. According to authorities, he was kept in this room almost all the time by his mother Marina, who never taught him how to speak or eat. He, like so many other feral kids, was completely malnourished and when found in this filthy, small, goat-inhabited room, weighed a third less than a child should weigh at two years old. While in the care of these social workers, Sasha was terrified of adults and refused to sleep on the cot they provided, preferring to try to sleep underneath it. This all happened back in 2012, and it is unclear whatever happened to him.
6. Ivan Mishukov
Make your own conclusion about the amount of Russian children we have listed here who have become feral in part because of alcoholic parents.
Ivan Mishukov of Reutov, a town just outside of Moscow, ran off into the woods after he was repeatedly beaten by his mother’s alcoholic boyfriend. He befriended a group of wild dogs, eventually becoming accepted by the pack and then becoming de facto pack leader. He stayed with them from age four until age six, when he was captured by police after they left a trap in a nearby restaurant kitchen for him. Despite his two years with the dogs, he managed to quickly learn language after being caught, and eventually went on to go to military school and serve in the Russian armed forces.
5. Dina Sanichar
Those who found Dina Sanichar referred to him as the “Indian wolf boy.” He was found in Sekandra, India living in a cave with a family of wolves back in 1867. They believed him to be about six years old at the time, and as far as anyone could tell, he was never in the care of humans before that. He was spotted following a wolf into a cave by some hunters, who then smoked Dina and the wolf out of that cave, shooting the wolf and rescuing him. He exhibited many traits of wolves, including fondness of raw meat and being weary of humans. He eventually became somewhat “tame.” Soon, he developed an addiction to cigarettes. He died around age 35 in the late 1890’s, but never told anyone his story, as he never learned enough of any language to do so.
4. John Ssebunya
Born in Uganda in the late 1980’s, John Ssebunya witnessed something no child should have to see very early in his life. He was just two or three when his father murdered his mother in front of him. According to the accepted story, shortly after this incident, he ran away from his home and lived with vervet monkeys. The monkeys brought him food, played games with him, and of course, showed him how to survive in the wild. A local woman found him in 1991 when he was about five years old, and had him brought to a nearby orphanage. His reintegration took about ten years. However, by 1999 he was able to talk (in spite of a significant stutter) and was adopted by a British family who were eager to help him live a normal life.
3. Marina Chapman
Born in Colombia, Marina Chapman was kidnapped around age four in the early to mid 1950’s. While she has some memory of the experience, she does not understand why it happened or why she was released by her captors shortly thereafter. From age four until the estimated age of fourteen, she lived with Capuchin monkeys in the jungle. Found by hunters, she had some difficulty readjusting to life with humans, including a few years living in the streets. She was eventually adopted by a family and sent to England.
2. Vicente Caucau
Like a few others on this list, the Chilean boy who later became known as Vicente Caucau (sometimes written Cau Cau) does not have a definitive story of early life. He was long considered to have run off from his alcoholic and abusive parents to live in the woods. He was found at around age 12 in 1948 and while he looked human, he acted like a wild animal. There are conflicting stories about him, but the soldiers who found him said that they believed he had lived among a family of pumas while in the wilderness.
Vicente was first kept in a prison but managed to escape. Under more diligent guard, he was kept in a hospital and attended to by nuns, who taught him to eat without his hands, taught him to dress, and of course, helped him learn to communicate. He lived to be over 70 years old and while he never completely shed the effects of being “feral” for so many years during his youth, he became a cherished member of his neighborhood.
1. Oxana Malaya
There is some debate as to whether Ukrainian Oxana Malaya can be officially considered a “feral child.” The main reason for this is that she did have parents who were somewhat in the picture. They were around, but they were extremely neglectful. By neglect, we aren’t talking about not giving her the most recent electronics and the occasional chocolate bar. We mean, her parents were extreme alcoholics and drank all day everyday while Oxana was, almost literally, raised by the dogs near their rural property. She was almost eight years old when her living conditions were discovered. At that point, she communicated primarily through barking, and cleaned herself the way dogs do. Yes, that pretty much means what you think it does.
She has successfully integrated into human culture, and now works at a farm, milking cows. She underwent significant therapy to learn speech and other things many of us take for granted.