Kids Raised by Animals

Written by Lex Basu
Updated: January 23, 2023
© Macrovector/
Share this post on:


Key Points

  • Its a common misconception that animals are always aggressive towards humans. However, most animals are actually scared of humans and try to avoid us as much as possible.
  • Although it is hard to understand, there have been instances where animals have raised lost or abandoned children in the wild, instead of harming them.
  • These children, when rescued, were found to be of feral in nature and could not be rehabilitated to normal life.

We tend to think of wild animals as being vicious when encountering humans, including children. However, there have been several stories of children being taken care of by animals, with dramatically life-changing and even severe effects. A feral child is a child that has been raised by animals with little to no previous human socialization. These stories are rare now but were more common in the past and especially in rural areas, and many have been made into documentaries. Here are 10 examples of kids raised by animals that will blow your mind.

Oxana Malaya

One of the most famous documentaries about feral children was that of Oxana Malaya, the Ukrainian Dog Girl. She was a feral child who was raised by dogs after her neglectful, abusive parents left her in a kennel at the age of 3. Found at the age of 8 in 1991, she couldn’t talk, only barked, and ran on all fours. She is now in her 20s, and although she is able to speak, she is still cognitively impaired. She lives in a mental institution and cares for cows on a nearby farm. Since her rescue, she was interviewed in a British documentary at the turn of the century.

Dina Sanichar

Kids raised by animals
Hand captioned “Wolf Boy, Senechar”. Photo depicts Dina Sanichar, the wolf boy of Sekandra. This is one of a selection of lantern slides dating c. 1900.

©whatsthatpicture from Hanwell, London, UK / Creative Commons – License

Believe it or not, the Jungle Book story was based on that of a feral child who was raised by a pack of wolves and became known as the Indian Wolf Boy. In fact, the phenomenon of a “human animal” or Mowgli Syndrome was inspired by him. Dina Sanichar was rescued from a wolves’ cave in 1867 at the age of six and then raised at the Sekandra orphanage, where he was thought to be mentally impaired after being observed eating raw meat off the ground and tearing off his clothes. He became addicted to tobacco and ended up dying in 1895.

Marcos Pantoja

Marcos Pantoja was not as much of a feral child unlike other, more severe cases, because he was older when he was left in the wild. In 1953 at the age of 7, his parents abandoned him and he was raised by a pack of wolves who protected, sheltered, and fed him. He learned how to bark, chirp, screech, and howl to communicate with the wolves as well as other animals. He lived like that until the age of 19 in the Sierra Morena, a mountain range in southern Spain. Then, police found him and he tried to flee, but they captured him, and he became known as the Wolfman of Sierra Morena and the Son of Wolves.

They brought him to the nearest village, after which a priest brought him to a Madrid convent’s hospital ward, where the nuns gave him a remedial education. After that, he lived in convents, hostels, and abandoned buildings throughout the country, working odd jobs and experiencing robbery and exploitation. Although he had a normal intelligence and no learning disabilities, he lacked the human socialization that older children and teenagers experience. He was also unworldly and ignorant of technology, such as the radio, which he thought had people trapped inside. In the 50 years since he was brought to civilization, he has expressed that he still struggles to adapt. The film Entrelobos (“Among Wolves”) is based on his story.

Amala and Kamala

Another one of the most famous documentaries of feral children is the story of Amala and Kamala, the wolf girls of Midnapore. In 1920, Christian missionary Joseph Singh, who was the head of an orphanage in northern India, saw 2 ghostly-looking girls with a pack of wolves in the Bengal jungle. Singh hid in a treetop overlooking the wolves’ den. He and the people saw the wolves and the girls climb out of the den on a full moon. The mother wolf defended the girls as if they were her own cubs, and the native people killed her and took the girls to civilization.

Their lack of human socialization showed since they were extremely aggressive, yelping and biting everyone. They didn’t make human sounds, cry, or smile. Also, their bodies adapted to being feral children, with sharp teeth, strong jaws, acute sense of smell, enhanced hearing, and sight adapted to darkness, with their eyes having a flashing light in them. Amala died in 1921 and Kamala died in 1929. The book The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History is about them.


A male feral child was found in 1990 in Andes, Peru at the age of 12. He had survived for about eight years by living with goats, drinking their milk, and eating berries and roots. He could communicate with goats and walked on all fours, with calluses on his hands and feet, and couldn’t learn human language. He was known as the Andes Goat Boy and was later named Daniel after being investigated by a Kansas State University team.

Syrian Gazelle Boy

In 1960, an anthropologist named Jean-Claude Auger met Nemadi nomads in the Spanish Sahara (Rio de Oro). They told him about a male feral child a day’s journey away. He followed their directions and found a 10-year-old boy living with a herd of gazelles. He galloped in huge bounds up to 13ft like a gazelle, and it took an Army jeep to capture him since he ran at 50kmph and up to 51-55kmph. The fact that he occasionally stood upright told Auger he became a feral child at about seven or eight months of age, no more than a year. He behaved like a gazelle, his diet was mainly herbivorous, and his teeth were level like theirs. Attempts to civilize him were unsuccessful and he escaped. He was found a month later in 1966 and the attempt to capture him again failed.


In 1996, the male feral child Bello, who would later be known as the Nigerian Chimp Boy, was found in the Falgore forest of northern Nigeria at the age of two. He was abandoned by his parents at around six months of age, which was a common practice of the nomadic Fulani people with disabled children. He had been found living with a family of chimpanzees and walked like a chimp, made chimp noises, and clapped cupped hands over his head. In the dormitory he was taken to, he would jump, break, and throw things around. During the six years that followed, he became much calmer but still acted like a chimp. He died in 2005.

Vanya Yudin

Raised alongside his mother’s pet birds in an aviary inside of her apartment until the age of seven, the male feral child who became known as the Russian Bird Boy was rescued by Russian careworkers in Volgograd in 2008. His mother treated him as a pet, and one of the effects of his lack of human socialization was that he couldn’t speak at all but could only chirp like a bird. Since then, he has been in a center for psychological care where professionals have been working to rehabilitate him.

Marina Chapman

The story of Marina Chapman begins with her having been kidnapped at the age of five and then abandoned in the Colombian jungle, after which a group of capuchin monkeys adopted her and taught her how to catch rabbits and birds barehanded. Hunters found her after five years and sold her to a brothel, which she ran away from. She lived homelessly, became a slave to a mafia family, and learned human language. With an opportunity she found from making connections, she went to Bradford, became a nanny, found her future husband and created a family. The book The Girl With No Name is about her story.

John Ssebunya

A baby boy was born in a village in Bombo, Uganda. At the age of two, he witnessed his father murder his mother and ran away to the jungle, where he lived with green vervet monkeys. After three years, he was rescued in 1991 by a woman searching for food in the jungle. His monkey family threw sticks and stones while he was carried away, and he became known as the Ugandan Monkey Boy. The five-year-old boy was taken to a Christian orphanage nearby, where it was found he had hypertrichosis (abnormal growth of body hair), scars and wounds, and he didn’t know how to walk on two feet. He struggled but eventually learned how to walk, talk, and smile.

Kids raised by animals is rare, but not impossible. A feral child has a very difficult time adjusting to society if they can adjust at all. Some children are not completely feral, especially if they are older or were briefly away from humans, but retain the effects of socialization from wolves and other animals they are raised by. Other feral children were lost or abandoned too early to be able to learn human language and socialization. Many stories of feral children are available as documentaries, such as that of Oxana Malaya, films about several at once, or series such as Raised Wild which describe a child in each episode.

Next Up…

Share this post on:
About the Author

Lex is a green-living, tree-hugging, animal-lover, who at one time was the mother to twenty one felines and one doggo. Now she helps pet owners around the globe be the best caretakers for their most trusting companions by sharing her experience and spreading love.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.