Ever since humans started recording their history and painting pictures on cave walls we have always had a romantic obsession with the natural world and everything in it, and with good reason. It is who we are. With movies showcasing wild nature boys like Tarzan and Mowgli who not only lived amongst animals but lead them, and with campfire stories filled with myth and disbelief about people who transform into wolves or giant birds. It makes you wonder if there is any truth behind these amazing and captivating stories. Our connection with the natural world is undoubtably strong, but what happens when we are forced to go back to our primitive routes? What happens when humans are forced to leave their cultivated lifestyle and live a life alone amongst mother nature herself. This Wildsider is all about feral children and how the stories we grew up with had truth and experience behind them.
So, what is a feral child or feral person? Being feral is to be wild and undomesticated. To be feral one must be born into wildness where the only rules are that of the natural world. Or they must be first domesticated and then become feral due to certain circumstances. Feral People, majority of them being children, are said to have been abandoned by parents or relatives and raised by animals. When we think of feral people we often think of a young child running along side wolves and eating the raw meat with their pack, or an ape man swinging from tree to tree picking fleas from the backs of his chimpanzee family. What ever it is that crosses your mind when you imagine the wildness of a feral person you are probably not far off from the real thing. Feral children do exist, and their stories are ones of unusual circumstances and often depressing. Nonetheless they are real and just like all of us they all have their own story.
Let’s get into this. Who are some of these feral people and what are some of their stories? With so many cases out there, I found a few that really stuck out to me. Keep in mind that what happened with these people happened when they where very young. Therefore, they become a product of their raising. They became a product of the wild.
Peter the wild boy: Peter was a young boy who was discovered in 1725 in northern Germany. He was found living in the forest amongst the wild. He walked on all fours and he barked and cleaned himself just like a dog. He was thought to have been abandoned by his parents at a very early age, forcing him to seek shelter and refuge in the woods. After his finding, Kings and Dukes from all over Europe traded him and kept him as a pet of sorts. He went through many castles, and many rehabilitation attempts, but no one was able to teach him to speak, walk, and eat properly. He was given to a farmer and left to live out the rest of his life, among the stable animals.
Oxana Malaya: Oxana is a more recent case, but is defiantly an interesting one. Oxana was abandoned by here abusive and alcoholic mother. Being neglected for 7 years Oxana was found in 1991 living in horrible conditions. She was left alone, outside in the harsh conditions of a Ukraine barn. Her only access to warmth, food, or water was through a pack of wild dogs. Oxana learned everything from these dogs. How to eat, drink, walk, and “talk”. When she was found her hands and feet had adapted to walk on rough surfaces. She could drink dirty water and digest raw meat straight from carcasses. When she was discovered the wild dogs protected her like they would one of their own. Through a difficult rehabilitation process, she is now living a semi normal life in a village located in the Ukraine taking care of the wild dogs.
Ng Chhadiy: Ng is a very interesting case of feral people. She is one of the only ones who went from being feral as a child, right into late adulthood. Found in the jungle of Myanmar, Ng was thought to be in her late 30’s when she was discovered and is said to have gone missing into the jungle when she was only 4 years old. That’s right, over 30 years in the jungle by herself. She lived off fruit and insects and would watch other animals hunt and scavenge for food, taking what they did not finish. She was able to climb trees and move through the jungle with ease. Hunters and villagers throughout the jungle had commonly reportedly that the woods were haunted with spirits. But it was just Ng stalking them and attacking them at night with lighting fast attacks. If you don’t think this can get anymore wild think again. When Ng was discovered she was brought back to a village by an anthropologist and rehabilitator. In this village a man said that he knew who she was, and that she was his daughter. He told the doctors about a birth mark that was proven to be there, and after a DNA test it was confirmed that this man was her father. She lives with her father in this village but is still unable to speak or live completely properly amongst others.
These are just a few of the many cases of feral children that are out there. Each one just as curious and bizarre as the next. It’s hard to know for sure what happened to these people during their life in the wild since none of them can speak properly or understand the process of what they went through. A lot of these feral cases have controversy behind them because it is said that many of these children had mental illness before they were feral and that their illness was neglected or misdiagnosed by the parents or doctors. They could have found a child with autism who instead of being offered help, found a pack of wild animals. But with a lack of proper nutrients and social skills during the developmental stages many of these feral people are found with the symptoms of what we would classify as mental illness.
Now a day’s, scientist are interested in these feral children and who they are because of how incredibly fast they adapted to their surroundings. Which raises interest in if they could be classified as a sub species. They have enough evidence to stay interested, but not enough to understand it or classify it. Whether these people are victims of terrible neglect or are just runaways who found shelter amongst the wild, one thing remains the same, these feral people from a completely different species group than their adoptive “parents”, were taking in with a sense of empathy and protectiveness. Although mother nature can be a cold-hearted bitch, she really does have a remarkable way of showing beauty and compassion.