Feral children have fascinated the world for years. Children need their parents to learn, grow and stay alive, although some children manage to make it all on their own, growing up in the wild. Most of these children are taken in by packs of wild animals, which help keep them safe and teach them how to survive.
Many feral children have been discovered over the years, but in almost all documented cases making the transition to a normal domesticated life is harder than living out in the wild.
German-born London-based photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten has created a new photo series called “Feral Children”. She staged dark photos to shine light on what it’s like to grow up under extremely uncommon circumstances.
Fullerton-Batten has always been interested in personal journeys. In fact, you might know her from her fist big-time project back in 2005 “Teenage Stories,” which explored a girl’s transition to womanhood.
The Girl With No Name by Lynne Barrett Lee was the inspiration behind the “Feral Children” photo series. The book explores the amazing story of a girl raised by monkeys in a remote mountain village of South America. She was abducted as small child and then left abandoned in the heart of the Colombian jungle. Her survival is incredible on its own, but the fact that monkeys jumped in to help raise her makes her story that much more amazing.
Fullerton-Batten said that the book “inspired me to search further for other cases of feral children. I found that there were quite a number of these. Some cases resulted from children becoming lost, snatched by wild animals, and especially those left or neglected by their parents. The documented cases exist over four of the five continents.”
Lobo Wolf Girl, Mexico, 1845-1852
In 1845 a young girl was seen running on all fours alongside a pack of wolves going after a herd of goats. One-year later the same girl was seen again, this time she was eating a goat alongside the wolves. At this time she was captured, but able to escape. In 1852 she was seen suckling two wolf cubs, once spotted she galloped off into the woods and was never seen again.
Oxana Malaya, Ukraine, 1991
Oxana was found in 1991 at 8-years old living in a kennel with a pack of dogs. She had lived with the dogs for 6 years, nearly her entire life. When she was only 2 or 3 she originally went into the kennel and cuddled up to the dogs for warmth. By the time she was found by humans she acted more like a dog, walking on all fours, panting with her tongue out, and even baring her teeth and barking. She could only speak two words, “yes” and “no.”
Oxana was given intensive treatment therapy to teach her basic verbal and social skills, which she developed but only to the ability of a five-year-old. At 30-years-old she lives in an Odessa clinic where she works with the hospital’s farm animals under the supervision of her caregivers.
Shamdeo, India, 1972
Shamdeo was around 4-years-old when he was discovered living with wolves in a forest in India. “His skin was very dark, and he had sharpened teeth, long hooked fingernails, matted hair and calluses on his palms, elbows and knees.” He enjoyed hunting for chickens and had a taste for blood.
He was eventually weaned off raw meat but never learned to talk, although he did pick up some sign language. In 1978 he was sent to Mother Theresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Lucknow, where he was given the name Pascal. He passed away in February 1985.
Prava (The Bird Boy), Russia, 2008
Prava was found at 7-years-old in a tiny room full of birds within a two-bedroom apartment. He lived with his 31-year-old mother but she never talked to him, instead he spent his time with the birds. He could not speak, he only chirped. He was released into childcare by his mother and is currently undergoing rehabilitation.
Madina, Russia, 2013
Madina’s mother was an alcoholic and so she basically lived with dogs from birth until 3-years of age. She was found by social workers in 2013, both physically and mentally healthy. According to her doctors she still has a good chance at a normal life once she learns how to communicate better.
The Leopard Boy, India, 1912
At two-years-old The Leopard Boy was taken in by a leopardess. Three years later a hunter killed the leopardess and then discovered her three cubs, one of which was a small human boy. He could not speak and “His knees were covered with hard callouses, his toes were bent upright almost at right angles to his instep, and his palms, toe- and thumb-pads were covered with a tough, horny skin. He bit and fought with everyone who approached him, and caught and ate the village fowl raw.” He later learned to walk upright and speak.
Genie, USA, 1970
Genie’s parents kept her in solitary confinement for over 10-years. She was 13 when her mother took her to child services and a social worker took note of her condition. She was used for research until 1974 when she seemingly disappeared. She was later located living at a private facility for mentally underdeveloped adults.
Sujit Kumar Chicken Boy, Fiji, 1978
Sujit was locked in the chicken coop as a young child for bad behavior. After both of his parents died his grandfather kept him confined to the coop. He was found in the middle of the road clucking and flapping like a chicken at 8-years-old. Unfortunately his first rescuers tied him to a bed for 20-years. Elizabeth Clayton rescued him and he now lives a much happier life at 30-years-old.
Ivan Mishukov, Russia, 1998
Ivan ran away from his abusive family at only 4-years-old. He was taken in by a pack of wild dogs with which he lived for two years before being placed in a children’s home. He now lives a normal life.
John Ssebunya (The Monkey Boy) Uganda, 1991
After watching his father murder his mother John ran away into the forest at 3-years-old. He lived with monkeys until he was 6-years-old, at which point he was placed in an orphanage. John is now famous for singing in the UK with the 20-strong Pearl of Africa children’s choir.
Photo Credits: juliafullerton-batten.com