Real-life children raised by animals

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Not all stories of children being raised by animals are as cheerful and happy as Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Unfortunately, there are many sad stories of abandonment where animals are the only comfort for these children. Listed below are some of the more recent tragic stories, however, there are stories dating back centuries of children being raised by animals.

Here is a more complete list of feral children.

Marina Chapman – Raised by monkeys

When she was about five years old, Marina Chapman says she was kidnapped, probably for ransom, but was then abandoned in the Colombian jungle. For some five years, she lived out in the wild, where she was taken in by a group of capuchin monkeys, which experts say are known to accept young children into their fold. The animals taught young Marina how to catch birds and rabbits with her bare hands, so she was able to survive. She rejoined the human world when she was taken by hunters and sold to a brothel, from which she eventually escaped.

Russian boy – Raised by goats

In June 2012, social workers in Russia discovered a toddler who had been locked in a room with goats by his mother. The boy reportedly played and slept with the goats, but nourishment was apparently hard to come by as he weighed a third less than a typical child of his age. When the child was rescued, his mother had disappeared. Doctors have since tried to acclimate the toddler to human life, with some difficulty. “He refused to sleep in the cot. He tried to get underneath and sleep there. He was very scared of adults,” one doctor said.

Natasha – Raised by cats and dogs

In 2009, welfare workers were led to an unheated flat in a Siberian town where they found a 5-year-old girl they called “Natasha.” While technically living with her father and other relatives, Natasha was treated like one of the many dogs and feral cats that shared the space. Like her furry companions, Natasha lapped up food from bowls left on the floor. She didn’t know any human words and only communicated with hisses and barks. The father was nowhere to be found when authorities rescued the girl, and Natasha has since been placed in an orphanage.

Argentina boy – Raised by wild cats

Argentinean police discovered an abandoned 1-year-old boy surrounded by eight wild cats in 2008. The cats reportedly kept the boy alive during the freezing winter nights by laying on top of him and even tried to lick the crusted mud from his skin. The boy was also seen eating scraps of food likely foraged by his protective brood.

Chilean boy – Raised by wild dogs

A 10-year-old Chilean boy was found in 2001 to have been living in a cave with a pack of dogs for at least two years. The boy had already survived a rough and unstable childhood, having been abandoned by his parents and then fleeing alternative care. Alone, the child sought refuge with a pack of dogs who helped him scavenge for food and even protected him. Officials said the boy might have even drunk milk from one of the female dogs. “They were like his family,” a spokesman said.

Kamala and Amala – Raised by wolves

One of the most well-documented cases of children raised by wild animals is that of Kamala and Amala, better known as the “wolf children.” Discovered in 1920 in the jungles of Godamuri, India, the girls, aged 3 and about 8, had been living with a she-wolf and her pack. It’s not known if the girls were from the same family, but the man who found the girls, Reverend J.A.L. Singh, took them back to his orphanage, where he tried to get them accustomed to their human surroundings. While the girls made some progress over the years, both eventually came down with fatal illnesses, leaving the reverend to wonder “if the right thing to do would have been to leave these children in the wild where I found them.”

John Ssebunya – Raised by monkeys

After seeing his mother murdered by his father, a traumatized 4-year-old boy, John Ssebunya, fled into the jungle, where he was reportedly raised by a troop of vervet monkeys until his discovery in 1991. As is often the case when feral children are discovered, he resisted capture from the villagers who sought to take him in, and was assisted by his adoptive monkey family (who supposedly threw sticks at his potential captors). Since his capture, John has been taught how to speak, and he can sing, too. In fact, he tours with the Pearl of Africa children’s choir.

Russian boy – Raised by Birds

In 2008, a seven-year-old boy was found to have spent his entire life living in a tiny two bedroom apartment surrounded by birds. His mother never spoke to him and treated him as a pet. When found, he was unable to communicate – he could only chirp and flap his arms like wings.