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Raised by Wolves

Stories of feral children raised by wolves or other animals are a staple of mythology. According to legend, Romulus and Remus, the two legendary founders of Rome were raised by wolves. And feral children figure in many works of fiction, such as Kipling's the Jungle Book and the Tarzan series.


One might dismiss these stories as mere superstition or legend, except for the fact that they are prevalent in almost every human culture, and some appear to have a basis in fact. I recall catching the tail end of documentary on the History channel that described a young boy that had been found abandoned in the dead city of Chernobyl. He was being cared for a by a pack of wild dogs that roam that nuclear-poisoned city.

The documentary talked about how the child had been taken from the dogs and placed with a human foster family. The social worker, the family and the child were featured. The child had not learned to talk and had only slowly started to lose some of his dog like behaviours.

Some similar accounts appeared in the following article first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1864:

CHILDREN SUCKLED BY WOLVES.

raised by wolves

This subject is one which will not be unwelcome to those whose faithin the myths of Roman history has been dissipated by Niebuhr andothers: they may still believe the story of Romulus and Remus and thewolf. The Honourable Captain Egerton, in a communication from India,says: 'Colonel Sleeman told me one of the strangest stories I everheard relating to some children, natives of this country (Oude),carried away and brought up by wolves. He is acquainted with fiveinstances of this, in two of which he has both seen the children andknows the circumstances connected with their recapture from theanimals. It seems that wolves are very numerous about Cawnpore andLucknow, and that children are constantly carried off by them. Most ofthese have, of course, served as dinners for their captors, but somehave been brought up and educated by them after their own fashion.Some time ago, two of the king of Oude's sowars (mounted gendarmes),riding along the banks of the Goomptje, saw three animals come down todrink. Two were evidently young wolves, but the third was as evidentlysome other animal. The sowars rushed in upon them, captured the three,and to their great surprise found that one was a small naked boy. Hewas on all-fours; like his companions; had callosities on his kneesand elbows, evidently caused by the attitude in moving about; and bitand scratched violently in resisting the capture. The boy was broughtup in Lucknow, where he lived some time, and may, for aught I know, beliving still. He was quite unable to articulate words, but had adog-like intellect—quick at understanding signs, and so on. Anotherenfant trouvé, under the same circumstances, lived with two Englishpeople for some time. He learned at last to pronounce the name of alady who was kind to him, and for whom he shewed some affection; buthis intellect was always clouded, and more like the instinct of a dogthan the mind of a human being. There was another more wonderful, buthardly so well-authenticated, story of a boy who never [pg 123]could get ridof a strong wolfish smell, and who was seen, not long after hiscapture, to be visited by three wolves, which came evidently withhostile intentions, but which, after closely examining him—he seemingnot the least alarmed—played with him, and some nights afterwardsbrought their relations, making the number of visitors amount tofive—the number of cubs which composed the litter from which he hadbeen taken. There is no account of any grown-up person having beenfound among the wolves. Probably, after a certain time, the captivesmay have got into a set of less scrupulous wolves, not acquainted withthe family: the result is obvious.'

Incredibly, there are a number of documented cases of children raised by wolves and dogs, many of them from Russia. Here is a video documentary of a girl that was abandoned by her alcoholic parents and raised by the mongrel farm dogs. When rescued, she walked on all fours and barked like a dog to communicate.

Wikipedia has a number of articles about many other children raised by all kinds of animals, including the sad true case of Sujit Kumar, a child raised by chickens in Fiji. At the age of 29 he still pecked at his food and perched like a chicken. Other accounts tell of children raised by monkeys, bears, jackals and even ostriches: (see FeralChildren.com for more information).

Fact is truly stranger than fiction. Of course, fiction can be pretty strange, and funny too. Here is a site claiming to document the life of Bee Boy, a child raised by - you guessed it - bees.

 

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