Tales of children raised by wolves and other wild animals are strewn throughout human history and fiction, with one of the earliest surrounding Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome.
Most modern stories of this sort turn out to be false when subjected to scrutiny. A Syrian Gazelle-Boy covered by Life magazine in the 1950s supposedly ran up to 50 miles per hour. Amala and Kamala, girls touted by a missionary in India as "raised by wolves," were eventually revealed to be part of a scam exploited the two mentally and physically disabled children.
But there are a few stories of children raised by wild animals that appear to be true. Let's take a look at three of them.
Top image from wolfenchanter on Deviant Art.
Romania's Traian Caldarar
Found in 2002 eating the carcass of a dog, Traian Caldarar lived in the forests of Transylvania from ages four to seven. Traian grew up in an abusive household, with his mother abandoning him shortly after his fourth birthday in order to flee her husband. Traian disappeared from the house soon after, and lived in a cardboard box in the Romanian forests, where at least one wild dog in the area cared for him over the next three years.
Traian's mother identified her son during a television broadcast announcing his discovery in the wild. In the months following his re-entry into society, Traian quickly lost many of his animal-like traits, including his unusual manner of moving around. He soon learned several social niceties, including the idea of sharing, suggesting that Traian will continue to make leaps toward rejoining human society.
A Russian Boy Raised as Bird
This is one of the stranger stories. In a bizarre social experiment, a Russian mother turned her home into an aviary. Her apartment was filled with birdcages, and her young boy, found in 2008 at the age of seven, communicated only with the various birds, chirping and flapping his arms like wings to obtain his mother's attention. The Russian newspaper Pravda stated in their initial report:
A boy lived with his mother in a 2-room apartment full of cages with feed and droppings. She had her own domestic birds and fed wild ones. The woman neither beat him nor left him without food. She just never talked to him.
After his removal from the house, he only chirped when spoken to. The mother relinquished care of the child to the government, where he was initially committed to an asylum, but later moved to a Russian rehabilitation center.
Lyokha the Werewolf Boy
Hospital workers discovered this boy in 2007 in a lair of "sticks and leaves" with a pack of wolves in the Kaluga region of Central Russia. They named him Lyokha, and were bewildered by the boy's wolf-like traits, including claw-like toenails, sharp teeth, and a wolf-like gait.
Lyokha was identified as a ten year old boy, but his origin is still unknown, as he escaped the hospital within twenty-four hours of entering. Popular opinion suggests Lyohka's parents abandoned him, leaving him to live with the wolves.
Tragedy and Truth
One would hope these stories are proven false like many tales of feral children we've heard before. Such stories detail awful cases of child abandonment and neglect - not glorified tales of freedom and joy like Mowgli of Kipling's Jungle Book.
Images from Pravda and the Daily Mail UK. Sources linked within article.