If you have ever seen the beloved children’s movie The Jungle Book you have likely wondered about the possibility of actual feral children. A feral child is one that has lived outside the confines of social norms, has had little if any contact with humans and knows nothing of human care for a child. These feral children are believed to be aided by animals many times such as in the story by Rudyard Kipling.
Every so often, there will be a media frenzy surrounding a feral child who has been found, but is there any supporting evidence that these children were able to survive without human contact? Many stories after closer investigation have turned out to be elaborate hoaxes, but the story of the abandoned baby saved by a family dog lends credence to the possibility that animals could intervene and protect a helpless child.
The stories of children being completely raised by an animal species are hard to determine, most of the time because if we know about them then obviously they were found and taken from their animal protectors. Many times feral children are those who have been abandoned or abused by their human parents and have survived in the wild for only short amounts of time.
The most credible account of a feral child is that of Saturday Mthiyane. this young boy was observed living with monkey’s for over a year before he was caught and taken to a home for the disabled. Saturday was typical of most feral children in that he was violent, did not like other children, would come and go via the windows and preferred raw meat to anything else. Even after ten years at the school, this child was still unable to communicate through language and exhibited much the same mysterious feral behavior that he had when he was found. unfortunately, in most authentic cases of children who spent their formative years with no human contact this is generally the case, it is believed that there is an optimal time for language development and if missed it is impossible to reverse the damage.