What Are Feral Children?

Feral children are children who have grown up with minimal human contact, or even none at all. They may have been raised by animals (often wolves) or somehow survived on their own.

Probably the best-known story of feral children is that of the two girls, Amala and Kamala, who were raised by a she-wolf. In 1920 the reverend J. A. L. Singh saw a mother wolf and cubs, two of which had long, matted hair and looked human. After considerable preparation and difficulties, the two human creatures were captured. They turned out to be two girls whose ages were assessed by Singh at about eight years and one and a half years respectively.

The creatures were taken to an orphanage in Mindapore, India, where the Reverend and his wife were stationed. Singh described them as “wolfish” in appearance and behavior. They walked on all fours and had calluses on their knees and palms from doing so.

They were fond of raw meat and stole it when the occasion presented itself. They licked all liquids with their tongues and ate their food in a crouched position. Their tongues permanently hung out of their thick, red lips, and they panted just like wolves. They never slept after midnight and prowled and howled at night. They could move very fast, just like squirrels, and it was difficult to overtake them. They shunned human society altogether. If approached, they made faces and sometimes bared their teeth. Their hearing was very acute and they could smell meat at a great distance. Furthermore, while they could not see well during the day, they could orientate themselves very well at night. In September 1921 both girls became ill, and Amala, the younger, died.

There are many other stories of feral children in the literature, among others the story of a boy who lived in Syria, who ate grass and could leap like an antelope, as well as of a girl, who lived in the forests in Indonesia for six years after she had fallen into a river. She walked like an ape and her teeth were as sharp as a razor.

Watch the videos below for 10 more cases of feral children…

These stories do far more than just to confirm the important role of education. They actually show that a human being not only can but must be educated to become a human being at all. A bear does not have to learn to be a bear; he simply is one. A duck needs no lessons in duckmanship. And an ant leads a perfectly satisfactory life without any instruction from other ants. Even when isolated from birth, animals usually retain clearly recognizable instincts. A cat that is raised among dogs, will still behave like a cat. He won’t try to bite the postman. There are only a few exceptions, such as the lion cub, which would not be able to hunt the wildebeest when raised in isolation.

Man, however, enters this world very poorly equipped. The knowledge a child needs to become fully human is not dormant. Everything the child eventually knows, or can do, must be learned. This of course excludes natural body functions, such as breathing, as well as the reflexes, for example the involuntary closing of the eye when an object approaches it. Everything else, however, must be learned.


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