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The story of Mowgli – the boy who was raised by a pack of wolves – is well-known and the recent Disney film on it is raking in millions all over. The fact that a young child could be raised by animals and live among them is what has fascinated us about this enchanting tale.
However, while Mowgli’s tale was all fiction – conjured up by Rudyard Kipling – you would be surprised to know there have been countless Mowgli-like cases in the real world as well; that of feral children. A feral child is someone who has stayed away from human contact and has been brought up among animals. The list below tells the story of 10 such real-life feral children which will leave you stunned.
1. Kamala and Amala, India
Possibly one of the most famous cases of feral children ever recorded, Kamala, 8, and Amala, 12, were discovered in a cave by a Reverend in 1920. The Reverend had been noticing the two physically deformed children for some time and had seen them running on all fours. The man took the two children home where they would only eat raw meat and tear off their clothing. Both, however, had an acute sense of hearing and sense of smell. Unfortunately, Amala died in 1921 and Kamala survived for 9 more years before succumbing to kidney failure.
2. Shamdeo, India
Found as a young boy merrily playing with a bunch of wolves in the forest of Musafirkhana (near Sultanpur, India) in 1972, Shamdeo shocked everyone who met him. He had long fingernails, tousled hair and calluses all over his body. He thirsted for blood, could hunt chickens easily, loved darkness and appeared very friendly with dogs and jackals. After being taken in by some social welfare organizations, Shamdeo died in February 1985.
3. Oxana Malaya, Ukraine
The story of Oxana Malaya from Ukraine was quite tragic as she was left outside by her alcoholic parents when she was just three. Seeking some warmth, little Oxana went inside a dog kennel. Astonishingly, the dogs raised her lovingly and she lived with them for six long years. Oxana was eventually found in 1991 outside that kennel, playing with the dogs. By this time, she had imbibed several traits of a canine: running on all fours, panting with the tongue out and barking. It was only after intensive therapy that Oxana could learn human and social skills again.
4. Sujit Kumar, Fiji
Sujit’s is another rather distressing story. As a young child in early 1970s, Sujit would at times show abnormal behaviour and his parents would then lock him up in a chicken coop at their farm in Fiji. After both his parents died, Sujit’s grandparents decided to lock the poor boy in the coop for good. Fortunately, he was found in 1978. By this time, Sujit would make clicking sounds, peck at his food and crouch on a chair. Later, he was discovered by a kind woman who nurtured him and is still tending to him. Sujit is now on the recovery path.
5. Ivan Mishukov, Russia
After being maltreated by his family for years, 4-year-old Ivan Mishukov of Russia decided to run away from home into the forests. There, he met a pack of dogs and stayed with them. For two years, Ivan stayed with the dogs and even became the leader of their pack; sharing food with them from begging, supervising them and taking care of everyone. Eventually, Ivan was caught in 1998 and was taken to a children’s home where he recovered quickly.
6. Memmie Le Blanc: The Wild Girl of Champagne, France
She is one of those rare feral children who could actually speak something coherent when she was found. Memmie Le Blanc traversed through the forests of France for a decade and her diet primarily consisted of birds, frogs, branches and leaves. She could even skin and devour little animals with ease and swing from tree to tree like a monkey. She had extraordinary eyesight and was a very fast runner. She was eventually found by a rich patron who tended to her and ensured that the girl became completely normal. Memmie went on to become a nun and died at the age of 63 in France.
7. John Ssebunya, Uganda
Also famously called as ‘The Monkey Boy’, John Ssebunya of Uganda had fled to the forests when he saw his father murder his mother one night. John began living with the moneys in the forests and pretty soon acquired many of their traits like eating roots and berries and climbing up trees. When he was discovered in 1991, John was six and had several afflictions. He underwent treatment and made a full recovery soon. ‘The Monkey Boy’ now leads his life as a singer.
8. The Leopard Boy, India
In a very peculiar incident which happened in 1912 in the North Cachar Hills near Assam, India, a young boy was stolen from his parents by a leopardess. Curiously, though, the leopardess did not kill the boy and instead raised him for three years. When he was finally found out in 1915, he could run rapidly on all fours and could eat small birds easily. He had calluses all over his body and his palms and toes were covered with very tough horny skin. ‘The Leopard Boy’ later, under rigorous therapy, learnt to speak and walk upright.
9. Prava, the Bird Boy, Russia
When he was rescued by Russian health care workers, seven-year-old Prava could only communicate by chirping like a bird. The little boy had been kept in a two-bedroom apartment for years, which also worked as an aviary, by his mother. For some odd reasons, the mother considered Prava as one of her pets and never even spoke to him. Hence, Prava could only speak bird language. Thankfully, he was rescued and then rehabilitated in 2008 and is now recovering steadily.
10. Marina Chapman, Colombia
The most heartbreaking story in this list, little Marina was first kidnapped at the age of five and then left in the jungles of Colombia by her abductors in the 1950s. There, Marina lived among a troop of capuchin monkeys who took care of her fondly; even rescuing her from poisoning once. Unfortunately, when she was found by some hunters a few years later, she had lost her ability to speak and was sold to a brothel. Marina somehow managed to escape from there but was then enslaved by a mafia family. Finally, she was saved by a neighbour and eventually hired as a housekeeper in the UK. Marina now leads a happily married life there and has also written a book about her experiences.