The stories of Tarzan and Mowgli may just be works of fiction for us. But there are people in real life who have lived in the wild with animals.
Here are the stories of some such children who were raised by animals at some point in their lives.
1. Dina Sanichar, India
Dina was captured by hunters when he was running with wolves in a jungle of Uttar Pradesh and was brought to a missionary-run orphanage. Despite multiple attempts at teaching him to speak, he could never learn to talk. He also preferred to eat raw meat over cooked food. The only thing human about him is that he got addicted to smoking.
2. Oxana Malaya, Ukraine
Oxana was just 3 years old when her alcoholic parents left her outside. She then crawled into a kennel and curled up with mongrel dogs. No one came to look for her or even seemed to notice she was gone, so she stayed there. Five years later, a neighbour found her but by then she had already learned to live like animals. Also known as ‘dog girl’, she is 35 now and lives in a home for the mentally disabled.
3. Shamdeo, India
A young boy named Shamdeo was found to be living with wolf cubs in the forests of north India. He had claw-like nails and matted hair which was evidence enough that he was raised by wolves. Although, he learned to dress and bathe after he was rescued, he could never learn to speak. He used to live in Prem Nivas, a home for destitute run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
4. Marina Chapman, Colombia
Marina Chapman was kidnapped and left in the jungle when she was five years old. There she started living with a family of monkeys before she was discovered by hunters. She learned to walk on all fours and ate berries and bananas. She also forgot her language completely when she was rescued by a group of hunters. Later, she was rehabilitated and went on to write a book about her feral experiences.
5. The Leopard Boy, India
This boy was taken by a leopardess in 1912 when he was just 2 years old. Three years later, the boy was rescued by a group of hunters. When first rescued, he would only squat and ran on all fours as fast as an adult man could do upright. He bit and fought with everyone who approached him, and caught and ate the raw fowl. Later, he learned to speak and walk more upright. He became gradually blind from cataract.
6. John Ssebunya, Uganda
He fled into the jungle and lived with monkeys when he was just three years old. At 6, he was captured and put into an orphanage. He used to eat mainly roots and nuts. He had calluses on his knees from walking like a monkey. John has learned to speak and live like a human. 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.
7. Kamala and Amala, India
Two girls were captured in 1920 from a hill abandoned by wolves, near Midnapore. The girls were named Kamala and Amala. When first caught, the girls slept curled up together, growled, tore off their clothing, ate nothing but raw meat, and howled. 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.
8. Madina, Russia
Madina lived with dogs from birth until she was three 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.
Later, doctors found her to be mentally and physically healthy despite what she had been through.
These aren’t Jungle Book stories, they are the most harrowing accounts of neglect and abuse faced by young children.