Sunday, January 10, 2010

Recent feral children

In looking up the word "feral" this morning, I have found that in addition to meaning "in a wild or untamed state," it can mean "fatal" or "funereal." I'm happy to say that the secondary definition is included in my Death Dictionary, but it's the primary meaning we are concerned with today. From the many reports of feral children - dating back to "Wild Peter" found in Germany in 1724, I have compiled a short list, by date of capture, of those found most recently:

2009 - Natasha Mikhailova (1st photo), of Russia, had been neglected by her father and grandparents, and had not had any contact with her mother for two years when she was brought to the attention of authorities by concerned neighbors at age 5. She had been confined in a room with dogs and cats, and treated as a family pet. She couldn't speak, walked on all fours, barked like a dog, and lapped up food and drink with her tongue.

2005 - Danielle Crockett (2nd photo), of the U.S., was found in Plant City, Florida, during a child abuse investigation. She was aged 7 and severely malnourished, living in a house with her mother and brothers that was full of filth and infested with roaches. She was wearing diapers, had lice, and was covered in sores, insect bites, and rashes. Taken to the hospital, she wouldn't make eye contact, was unable to talk or cry, couldn't chew or swallow food, and didn't react to heat, cold, or pain. "Dani" spent 6 weeks in the hospital, followed by a group home, foster care, and permanent adoption.

2001 - Axel Rivas, of Chile, was thrown out of his house by abusive parents at age 5 and was placed in a children's home. He escaped at age 8 and lived with a pack of wild dogs in a cave for the next 3 years until he was captured by police and returned to the children's home. He was able to speak, but was depressed and aggressive. His self-control was improving and he was being considered for placement with a foster family when he ran away again.

1998 - Ivan Mishukov, of Russia, ran away from his abusive parents in 1996 at age 4, living on the streets and befriending a pack of dogs. He shared the scraps he found in garbage bins and they offered him warmth and protection. He was captured, snarling and biting, by police, but quickly readjusted and began school after being taken to a children's home.

1991 - Oxana Malaya (Оксана Малая), of Ukraine, had alcoholic parents who were unable to care for her. She lived in a dog kennel behind her house, where she was cared for by dogs and picked up many canine behaviors. She growled, barked and crouched like a wild dog; sniffed her food before eating it, and developed extremely acute senses of hearing, smell, and sight. Oxana resides in a home for the mentally handicapped.

1991 - John Ssebunya, of Uganda, had witnessed his father shoot and kill his mother in 1988 at the age of about 4. He escaped into the forest and joined a pack of green vervet monkeys. He reverted to walking on his knees and knuckles, and developed thick hair covering his body - possibly as a result of malnutrition. He was found in a tree by a tribeswoman and adopted by a Christian orphanage, where he relearned to speak and walk upright, and took up singing and playing the guitar.

These are just a few of more than 40 such feral or severely neglected children found since 1990. There are several books in print about feral children, including Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children (2004) by Michael Newton, Feral Children and Clever Animals: Reflections on Human Nature (1995) by Douglas K. Candland, and Encounters with Wild Children: Temptation and Disappointment in the Study of Human Nature (2006) by Adriana S. Benzaquen. There are some informative websites on feral children in general ( and specifically ("Genie"), but the most comprehensive on-line source on this subject is

1 comment:

  1. Great article! Very interesting topic.


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