A photographer named Julia Fullerton-Batten was always fascinated by stories of feral children. She learned in her care young people who grew up alone with wild animals raising them.
This is her main source of inspiration for Fullerton-Batten’s latest project, “Feral Children.” Her pictures and their accompanying stories are captivating in ways we’ve never seen before.
1. Lobo Wolf Girl, Mexico (1845-1852).
In 1845, a girl was seen running on all fours with a pack of wolves attacking a herd of goats. A year later, she was seen with the wolves eating a goat. She was captured, but escaped. In 1852, she was seen yet again suckling two wolf cubs, but she ran into the woods. She was never seen again.”
2. Amala and Kamala, India (1920).
Kamala, 8 years old, and Amala, 12, were found in 1920 in a wolves’ den. It is one of the most famous cases of feral children. Pre-advised, they were found by a Reverend, Joseph Singh, who hid in a tree above the cave where they had been seen. When the wolves left the cave, he saw two figures look out of the cave. The girls were hideous looking, ran on all fours, and didn’t look human. He soon captured the girls. When first caught, the girls slept curled up together, growled, tore off their clothing, ate nothing but raw meat, and howled. Physically deformed, their tendons and the joints in their arms and legs were shortened. They had no interest in interacting with humans. But, their hearing, sight, and sense of smell was exceptional. Amala died the following year after their capture. Kamala eventually learned to walk upright and say a few words, but died in 1929 of kidney failure [at] 17 years old.“
3. Shamedo, India (1972).
“Shamdeo, a boy aged about four years old, was discovered in a forest in India in 1972. He was playing with wolf cubs. His skin was very dark, and he had sharpened teeth, long hooked fingernails, matted hair, and calluses on his palms, elbows, and knees. He was fond of chicken-hunting, would eat earth, and had a craving for blood. He bonded with dogs.
He was finally weaned off eating raw meat, never talked, but learnt some sign language. In 1978, he was admitted to Mother Theresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Lucknow, where he was re-named Pascal. He died in February 1985.”
4. Sumit Kumar Chicken Boy, Fiji (1978).
Sujit exhibited dysfunctional behaviour as a child. His parents locked him in a chicken coop. His mother committed suicide and his father was murdered. His grandfather took responsibility for him but still kept him confined in the chicken coop. He was eight years old when he was found in the middle of a road, clucking and flapping. He pecked at his food, crouched on a chair as if roosting, and would make rapid clicking noises with his tongue. His fingers were turned inward. He was taken to an old people’s home by care workers, but there, because he was so aggressive, he was tied with bed sheets to his bed for over 20 years. Now, he is over 30 years old and is cared for by Elizabeth Clayton, who rescued him from the home.”
5. Genie, United States (1970).
When she was a toddler Genie’s father decided she was ‘retarded’ and restrained her in a child’s toilet seat in a small room of the house. She lived in solitary confinement for more than 10 years. She even slept in the chair. She was 13 years old in 1970 when she and her mother turned up at child services and a social worker noticed her condition. She was still not toilet trained and moved with a strange sideways “bunny-walk.” She couldn’t speak or make any sound, and constantly spat and clawed herself. For years, she became a research object. She gradually learned to speak a few words but couldn’t arrange them grammatically. She also began to read simple texts, and developed a limited form of social behaviour. At one stage, she briefly lived again with her mother, but was then for several years passed through various foster homes experiencing abuse and harassment. She returned to a children’s hospital where it was found that she had regressed back to silence. Funding for Genie’s treatment and research was stopped in 1974, and it wasn’t known what happened to her until a private investigator located her in a private facility for mentally underdeveloped adults.”
6. The Bird Boy, Russia (2008).
“Prava, a seven-year-old boy, was found in a tiny, two-bedroom apartment, living with his 31-year old mother – but he was confined in a room filled with bird cages, containing dozens of his mother’s pet birds, bird feed, and droppings. She treated her son as another pet. He was never physically harmed; she neither beat him nor left him without food, but she never spoke to him. His only communication was with the birds. He could not speak, but chirped. When he wasn’t understood, he would wave his arms and hands bird-like. Released into child care by his mother, Prava was moved to a centre for psychological care, where doctors are trying to rehabilitate him.”
7. Oxana Malaya, Ukraine (1991).