What happens when children are left out in the wild, without any human care or nurturing?
There were more than a hundred occasions registered of so-called feral children in the world. The expression refers to the fact that these children are essentially left to fend for themselves, more often than not, in the wild. The exact reasons for their abandonment are unclear, some of them suffered from mental deficiencies, others were separated from their parents by accident or ran away on their own accord.
Who would abandon a small child like that, what are the chances of them surviving on their own?
These feral children ended up coming into contact with animals out in the wild, looking for companionship they never received from people and ended up being accustomed to their habits, much like a young animal would. It’s a chilling thought, looking at their lives, how we develop as humans when we are taken out of our safe social background.
Join us in learning more about these young fighter’s haunting stories!
1. Oxana Malaya From Ukraine
This picture is a re-imagined scene about young Oxana, created by Julia Fullerton-Batten. The little Ukrainian girl was abused and neglected by her parents from a very early age until one night they locked her out of the house. She was only three years old – she ended up in the dog’s kennel by instinct, looking for comfort and warmth. The dogs took her in and she learned their behavior as if it was her own, communicating by barking and running around on all fours. She was taken from the parents at the age of 8, at this point she could only understand basic words.
2. The Russian Bird Boy
The chilling story of a 7-year-old boy from Russia is about an extreme case of child abuse. Bird boy’s mother had an aviary in their tiny apartment and took to caring more about the birds than her son. She kept the little boy fed and his basic needs tended to – except for human speech. The innate need to express ourselves led him to start mimicking the way the birds communicate with each other: chirping and flapping their wings. When he was taken from his abusive mother, this was the only way he could communicate.
3. The Wolf Girls Kamala and Amala
Indian wolf girls Amala and Kamala were not biological sisters, but have been found together amongst wolves in 1920. Displaying barely any human behavior, they were fond of raw meat and ran on all fours. A reverend and his wife took them in, trying to get them accustomed to human life. Sadly, Amala, the younger of the two died shortly after. Her wolf-sister Kamala recovered somewhat and managed to learn how to adapt to human life in the end.
4. Daniel, Goat Boy From Peru
The Andes goat boy, nicknamed Daniel, spent 8 years living amongst goats in the wilderness. He walked on all fours, his hands and feet calloused and acting like hoofs. Since he was practically feral and living off of goat milk an berries, he could never learn the human language even after they found him. The only communication he was capable of was related to his hircine companions.
5. Gazelle Boy From Syria
Syrian gazelle-boy was nicknamed after his incredible speed – he was captured around the 1950s, with the help of a jeep. He was thought to have been abandoned in the Syrian desert, where he lived with gazelles and other animals. Incredibly thin but muscular, the boy attempted to escape his captors many times.
6. Shamdeo, India
Julia Fullerton-Batten created a vision of photography for the story of Indian feral child, Shamdeo. Found in 1972, around 4 years of age, Shamdeo was mostly fond of wolves and behaved like one, too. He hunted chickens, competing with the wolves for food and he had a taste for blood. He could only learn sign language but sadly died in 1985.
7. Marina Chapman, Colombia, 1959
Marina Chapman was kidnapped at a young age and ended up living in the jungle with a tribe of monkeys. She had to fend for herself by learning their behaviors and the monkeys eventually started treating her as one of their own, even grooming her like they do each other. Julia Fullerton-Batten created this image in honor of her story. Thankfully, Chapman was found and leads a normal life now.
8. Romanian Dog Boy Traian Caldarar
Traian Caldarar spent 3 years living in a feral state on the streets. He is thought to be a victim of domestic abuse, he possibly ran away from family conflicts at the age of four. He was found alongside a dead dog and displayed animalistic behaviors. Thankfully, he was reunited with his mother in the end.
9. Cambodian Jungle Girl Rochom P’ngieng
Rochom P’ngieng spent almost 20 years in the jungle, fending for herself. She went missing at the age of 8 – she was found and recognized by her father due to a scar she had on her back. She remembered a few words but was completely feral otherwise. They tried to get her accustomed to human life for three years, but she fled her family in 2010 and ran back to the jungle, never to be found again.
10. John Ssebunya From Uganda
Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten’s next subject is Ugandan domestic abuse victim, John Ssebunya. He ran away from his murderous father and spent three years in the jungle amongst monkeys. He was found in 1991, displaying classic simian behaviors upon meeting people. Thankfully managed to recover his human nature, with the help of rehabilitation efforts.
11. Madina From Russia
Madina had a tough life from the moment she was born. Abandoned by her father and stuck with her alcoholic mother, she was left to look for comfort amongst dogs in the household. She was 3 years old when social workers finally found her and took her to safety. Miraculously, Madina was found to be mentally and physically stable and managed to recover from her horrific childhood. Julia Fullerton-Batten captured her story in the picture below.
12. Sujit Kumar From Fiji
Julia Fullerton-Batten commemorates the story of Sujit, who was confined to a chicken coop for years during his young life. He was 8 years old when he wandered out from the barn, which allowed him to be rescued. When they discovered him, he was exhibiting bird-like behaviors, clucking and flapping like chickens. His parents died and his grandfather locked him in with the birds, where he had to fend for himself.
13. Ivan Mishukov From Russia
Ivan left his family when he was only four years old. He was much like a stray dog on the street and became a pack leader. He was in a symbiotic relationship with wild dogs, helping them get food and in return they let him sleep amongst the pack. He lived this life for two years until a children’s home found him and took him. in. Julia Fullerton-Batten comments, that through her pictures, she is able to raise awareness of child abuse.
14. Bello, Chimp Boy From Nigeria
Bello was born with a serious mental and physical disability. His parents were part of the Fulani tribe, where it was common practice to abandon disabled children to the wilderness. The child ended up being adopted by chimpanzees, he managed to live with the tribe for a year. He was eventually taken by rescuers but he never really adapted to human life. He died young, in 2005.
15. Dina Sanichar, Wolf Boy From India
Dina Sanichar’s story is one of the oldest recorded cases of feral children. He spent most of his life in an orphanage and he was plucked from a wolf’s den at the age of 6 by rescuers. He was taught to live as a human, but he never managed to learn how to speak – he was considered to be mentally handicapped. He bonded with other feral children in the orphanage, teaching them how to use tools.