Real-Life Jungle Book Stories – Fascinating Cases of Children Raised by Animals

April 25, 2016 | Erica Tennenhouse

Romulus and Remus, raised by wolves
Photo credit: Benutzer:Wolpertinger/Wikipedia

Any fan of The Jungle Book will be familiar with Mowgli—a child raised by a pack of wolves in the jungle.

Feral children are human children who have been without human contact from a young age and lack experience with human care, behavior, or language.

While Mowgli is a purely fictional character, several real-life cases of feral children raised by animals have been reported over the years. These are a few of the most fascinating and well-documented cases:


“Wolf Girls”

Natives and villagers repeatedly claimed to have seen two children emerging from a wolves’ den in the jungle near Godamuri, India. Joseph Amrito Lal Singh, the rector of the local orphanage, rescued the girls—Amala, estimated to be 19 months, and Kamala, about 8 years old—from the den. In Singh’s diary, he noted that neither girl was able to stand erect, they couldn’t learn to use a toilet, would eat raw meat, howled like wolves, and preferred the company of dogs to humans. Both girls also lacked any semblance of human speech. Amala succumbed to disease not long after rescue and died in 1921, while Kamala died just 8 years later.


“Monkey Boy”

John Ssebunya was born in Uganda. In 1988, at the age of 3, he witnessed his father murdering his mother. The traumatized toddler was then abandoned in the jungle, where he reportedly joined a welcoming group of vervet monkeys. John was discovered in 1991 after having spent three years living and bonding with the monkeys. Though it was a long rehabilitation process, John is now fully integrated into society and leading a normal life.


“Dog Boy”

At the age of 4, a Russian boy named Ivan Mishukov ran away from his abusive family and was adopted by pack of dogs, gaining their trust by providing them with food. Attempts by police to rescue Ivan were unsuccessful—the pack would fiercely defend him. Finally, in 1998, the police separated the boy from the pack by leaving bait for the dogs in a restaurant kitchen. Ivan, 6 years old by that time, was rescued and over the next few years he was able to successfully re-learn language.

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