Shocking True Stories of Feral Children Are Brought to Life by Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten

Thinking of feral children, the first thing, it cross my mind is The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story, the Rudyard Kipling's book that chronicles the story of a little boy raised by savage animals until he is refound by humans many years later as a teenager. However, the real stories of feral children have little in common with Mowgli's stories as most times these kids are victims of neglect rather than of accident like Kipling's book.

Raised by savage animals, feral children have no social skills. They cannot speak but inarticulate sounds, imitating the sounds of the animals that raised them. Their physical appearance often alters to adapt to their environment or the look of their "new family" so they barely seem human. And once captured, the road towards a normal life is tough and full of difficulties.

London based and world-wide acclaimed photographer, Julia Fullerton-Batten, inspired by the real stories of feral kids, decided to narrate them through her camera in order to honor these lost kids. The photos below depict 10 different heart-breaking cases of feral kids.

1. Ivan Mishukov, Russia, 1998

At the age of four years old, he ran away from home to escape his mother’s abusive boyfriend, Ivan found shelter in a pack of dogs, whose trust he gained by supplying them with food. They eventually made Ivan pack leader, and he lived among them for two years.
When police finally managed to lure the protective dogs away from then six year old Ivan, he re-entered society, was able to re-learn language, and made a full recovery, eventually even serving in the Russian Army.

2. The Leopard Boy, India, 1912

He was a two year old boy when he was taken by a leopardess in India and his family presumed him dead. Two years later, when a hunter killed the leopardess, he found the boy living as one of her cubs.
When brought back to his family, the young boy could only walk on all fours, would only communicate in growls, and would fight anybody that came near him. He even caught and ate the village chicken raw.

3. Marina Chapman, Colombia, 1959

Kidnapped and abandoned in the jungle at the age of five, Marina was adapted by a family of monkeys for years. She ate what they ate, slept and played among them, and only walked on all fours.
Found by hunters who sold her into a brothel at aged nine, Marina’s re-entry into human society wasn’t easy, but she was eventually adopted by a loving human family. She moved to Bradford in 1977, where she still lives today, and even co-authored a book about her feral experiences.

4. Oxana Malaya, Ukraine, 1991

Oxana’s alcoholic parents locked her outside one night, causing her to enter into the dogs’ kennel to warm herself. She remained there for six years. When found, she could only bark, walk on all fours, and pant with her tongue out.
Although Oxana was able to learn some social and verbal skills, she remains at the level of a five year old. She currently lives in a clinic, where she is able to interact daily with the hospital’s farm animals.

5. Kamala and Amala, India, 1920

One of the most mysterious cases of feral children is Kamala and Amala who no one knows where they came from. When discovered living with a pack of wolves, they didn’t even look like humans. They were physically deformed, with their tendons and joints shortened, suggesting that they had only ever walked on all fours.
With no interest in interacting with human society, the girls didn’t last long once taken away from the wolves. Amala died the year after they were captured, and Kamala a few years later.

6. John Ssebunya (The Monkey Boy), Uganda, 1991

After seeing his father murder his mother, three year old John ran away from home. He fled into the jungle, and lived with monkeys until he was six years old. When discovered, a diet of roots and nuts had given him severe intestinal worms, over half a metre long.
John was able to learn both social and verbal skills after he was brought back to society, and became famous for singing in the UK with the Pearl of Africa children’s choir.

7. Lobo Wolf Girl, Mexico, 1845-1852

Spotted various times between 1845 and 1852, the Lobo Wolf Girl was never captured. She was first seen with a wolf pack attacking some goats, and then again eating a goat a few years later.
Her immersion into the wolf pack was so extreme that when she was last spotted, aged around 17, she was suckling two wolf cubs.

8. Prava (The Bird Boy), Russia, 2008

Prava was raised as just another pet by his bird-crazy mother. Found in 2008 and although he was never physically harmed, Prava’s mother had never spoken to her son, meaning his only communication skills had been learnt from the caged birds that surrounded him. He could consequently only tweet.
He was taken into care, where doctors are still trying to rehabilitate him today.

9. Genie, USA, 1970
Genie is one of the most famous and tragic cases of feral children. She was not raised by animlals but at 20 months old, her father strapped her into a chair, where she remained until she was 13, when she came to the attention of Californian social services.
Numerous documentaries have been made about her since, as various psychologists, linguists and other such scientists have learnt valuable information from her case. Seeing as nobody spoke to her until she was 13 years old, she was never capable of proper speech.

10. Sujit Kumar Chicken Boy, Fiji, 1978

Another heart-breaking case is this of Sujit Kumar. After his mother's suicide and the murder of his father, Sujit’s grandfather locked him in a chicken coop. He was found years later, in the middle of a road, clucking, flapping and crouching as if roosting. He would only eat his food by pecking at it, and he had no language skills.
Sujit was taken to an old people’s home, but when hIS behaviour became aggressive, he was tied to a bed. He remained tied down for over 20 years, when he was eventually rescued.

All images © Julia Fullerton-Batten
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