A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language.Some feral children have been confined by people (usually their own parents); in some cases this child abandonment was due to the parents’ rejection of a child’s severe intellectual or physical impairment. Feral children may have experienced severe child abuse or trauma before being abandoned or running away. Others are alleged to have been brought up by animals; some are said to have lived in the wild on their own. Just over one hundred incidents have been reported in total, here we enumerate 10 of them who got famous in their own times.
10. Dina Sanichar, the Indian Wolf Boy
Dina Sanichar, one of the boys who lived at the Sekandra orphanage, is usually assumed to have been mentally sub-normal. He was removed from a wolves’ cave in 1867 when he was about six years old. Dina Sanichar was discovered when hunters in the jungles of Bulandshahr were astonished to see a boy follow a wolf into her den, running on all fours. They smoked out the wolf and her companion and shot the wolf.
He initially exhibited all the habits of a wild animal, tearing off clothes and eating food from the ground. He was eventually weaned off raw meat onto cooked, but never did learn to speak. He apparently became addicted to tobacco. Dina Sanichar died in 1895.
9. Kamala and Amala, the Wolf Girls of Midnapore
Perhaps one of the best-known and controversial stories of feral children is that of Amala and Kamala. Kamala and Amala are two of the most interesting cases of feral children. The wolf girls were about 18 months (Amala) and eight years old (Kamala) when they were found together in a wolves’ den. However, it is believed that they were not sisters, but were abandoned — or taken by wolves — some years apart.
In that year, Reverend Joseph Singh, a missionary in charge of an orphanage in Northern India, heard of two ghostly spirit figures seen accompanying a band of wolves near Midnapore in the Bengal jungle. The local villagers were fearful of these apparitions but local custom forbid them to do any harm to the wolves. Intrigued, Singh built a hide in a tree top over-looking the lair of the wolf pack, an old ten-foot high termite mound that had become hollowed out with time. As the moon rose, Singh saw the wolves come out one by one. Then sticking their heads out briefly to sniff the night air before bounding forwards into the clearing came two hunched and horrible figures. As Singh described the “ghosts” in his diary, they were: “Hideous looking…hand, foot and body like a human being; but the head was a big ball of something covering the shoulders and the upper portion of the bust…Their eyes were bright and piercing, unlike human eyes…Both of them ran on all fours.”
The girls seemed to have no trace of humanness in the way they acted and thought. It was as if they had the minds of wolves. They tore off any clothes put on them and would only eat raw meat. They slept curled up together in a tight ball and growled and twitched in their sleep. They only came awake after the moon rose and howled to be let free again. They had spent so long on all fours that their tendons and joints had shortened to the point where it was impossible for them to straighten their legs and even attempt to walk upright. They never smiled or showed any interest in human company. The only emotion that crossed their faces was fear. Even their senses had become wolf-like. Singh claimed their eyes were supernaturally sharp at night and would glow in the dark like a cat’s. They could smell a lump of meat right across the orphanage’s three acre yard. Their hearing was also sharp – except, like Victor, the voice of humans seemed strangely inaudible to their ears.
A poor but relatively well educated man, Singh did his best to rehabilitate his charges. Influenced by the horticultural model of child development, he theorised that the wolf habits acquired by Kamala and Amala had somehow blocked the free expression of their innate human characteristics. Singh felt it was his job (not least, for religious reasons) to wean the girls from their lupine ways and so allow their buried humanity to emerge. Unhappily, before his experiment had progressed far, the younger girl, Amala, sickened and died. This proved a great set-back to Kamala, who had only just started to lose her fear of other humans and her orphanage surroundings. Kamala went into a prolonged mourning and for a while, Singh feared for her life as well. But eventually Kamala recovered and Singh started a patient programme of rehabilitation.
8. Daniel, The Andes Goat Boy
The Andes Goat-Boy was found in the Andes, Peru, in 1990, and was said to have been raised by goats for eight years. He is supposed to have survived by drinking their milk, and eating roots and berries. Being in wild, he developed the obvious feral characteristics.
He tended to walk with all his 4 limbs, his hands and feet were hardened due to scar formation that acted like his hoofs. He could communicate with goats and could not learn human language.
7. The Syrian Gazelle Boy
A boy aged around 10 was found in the midst of a herd of gazelles in the Syrian desert, and was only caught with the help of an Iraqi army jeep, because he could run at speeds of up to 50 kph. Although terribly thin, he was said to have been extremely fit and strong, with muscles of steel. He was captured and bound hand and foot.
Armen says the Syrian Gazelle-Boy was still alive in 1955, when he (the boy) made an attempt to escape from whichever unpleasant state institution he was incarcerated in. I won’t offend your sensibilities by telling you what they did to him to stop him escaping again.
The Life Magazine story of 9 September 1946 agrees pretty much with the other reports. It states that the previous month, a group of hunters found a boy running wild with a herd of gazelles in the Syrian steppes. About 10 – 14 years old at the time of discovery, he was believed to have been abandoned as a baby. He was taken to an asylum for the insane. Sunday Express, puts the same story but says boy’s speed of 50 mph, not 50 kph.
6. Bello, the Nigerian Chimp Boy
Bello, the Nigerian Chimp Boy was found in 1996, at the age of about two. Both mentally and physically disabled, he had probably been abandoned by his parents at the age of about six months, a common practice with disabled children among the Fulani, a nomadic people who range great distances over the west African Sahel region.
Believed to have been adopted and raised by chimpanzees, Bello was found with a chimpanzee family in the Falgore forest, 150 km south of Kano in northern Nigeria. When the story reached the news agencies some six years later in 2002, Bello had been living at the Tudun Maliki Torrey home in Kano.
When first discovered, Bello walked like a chimpanzee, using his legs but dragging his arms on the ground. He would leap about at night in the dormitory, disturbing the other children, smashing and throwing things. Six years later Bello was much calmer, but would still leap around in a chimpanzee-like fashion, make chimpanzee-like noises, and clap his cupped hands over his head repeatedly. Bello died in 2005.