The earliest legend of feral children goes as far back as 771 BC to the historical figures: Romulus and Remus. Who are they? So ancient Rome has a few founding stories. One of them is that Romulus and Remus were twin brothers who established the city of Rome. They were abandoned at birth and raised by a she-wolf and fed by a wood-pecker!
Since then, the story of children being raised by wild animals such as wolves, dogs, apes, monkeys and bears – who are more commonly known as feral children has appeared in several stories. For example, Mowgli, from the Jungle Book, and Tarzan (who was raised by apes).
But in real life, There are plenty of stories that suggest it IS possible for animals to nurture human children.
The most famous of these stories was that of: Amala and Kamala – two feral children from Kolkata, West Bengal. A reverend named Joseph Amrito Lal Singh claimed that he rescued these girls from a wolf den in the year 1920. Wolves by the way are also co-incidentally known for occasionally taking children.
In the 1990s, several children in rural India had been snatched away in their sleep by wolves. The children were found later, nearby with their throats pierced, stomachs ripped open and limbs gnawed!
And nearly a century and a half ago in the same district, a she-wolf was spotted walking, followed by three cubs and a little boy. Sir William Sleeman, an adventurer at the time recalled the incident:
“The boy went on all fours and seemed on the best possible terms with the old dam and the three young whelps, and the mother seemed to guard all four with equal care.”
So Amala and Kamala. 2 girls who were allegedly discovered living with wolves in West Bengal in 1920. Reverend Singh saw a mother wolf and cubs, two of whom looked like humans. The two human “cubs” were eventually captured.
The girls were probably not sisters because the assumption is that they had been captured by wolves at different times. Kamala was 8 years old at the time and Amala was 8 months old.The girls had a severe learning disability and were completely ignorant of the human language.
They made high-pitched wailing noises, kind of like a wolf’s howling. As far as language development goes, even after several years in Mr. Singh’s care Kamala was only able to learn about 20 words but Amala, the younger girl, died only after a year, but Kamala lived until 1929, when she died of typhoid fever.
Reverend Singh says this about the girls:
“They would not allow themselves to be dressed, scratched and bit people who tried to feed them, rejected cooked food and walked on all fours. Both girls had developed thick calluses on their palms and knees from having walked on all fours. The girls were mostly nocturnal, had an aversion to sunshine, and could see very well in the dark. They also exhibited an acute sense of smell and an enhanced ability to hear. The girls enjoyed the taste of raw meat and would eat out of a bowl on the ground. They seemed to be insensitive to cold and heat and appeared to show no human emotions of any kind, apart from fear. At night they would howl like wolves, calling out to their “family”.”
Amala and Kamala’s story received a lot of media attention you guys! However, the only real account of these girls was the one provided by Mr. Singh, the man who ran the orphanage that took these girls in. That’s why a lot of people doubt the authenticity of the story with some researchers even saying that the girls must have just been autistic or something.
There may be something to that actually. Because he claims that he found the girls in 1920 but it wasn’t until 1926 that Singh decided to publish his writings on the girls.
At first, he said the girls were given to him by a man who lived in the jungle in a nearby village. But he later went on to say that he himself rescued the girls from the wolves! Anyone doubt this guy yet?!
A lot of people doubted it, especially the French surgeon, Serge Aroles said, “the case of Amala and Kamala is the most scandalous swindle concerning feral children.”
(Enigma of the Wolf-Children, 2007), Aroles described his research of the case. He mentions a couple of things:
– The original diary that Singh is said to have kept documenting the day to day lives of these girls is false. It was written years after Kamala’s death. In fact, the original manuscript is kept in the manuscripts division of the US Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
-The pictures showing the two wolf-girls walking on all fours, eating raw meat, and others, were taken in 1937, after the deaths of both of them.
– According to several reliable testimonies collected in 1951–1952, Singh used to beat Kamala in order make her act as he had described in front of visitors.
Now lets look at something a little more recent. The story of Misha Defonseca, a Belgian woman who claimed that wolves took care of her in the forest while she tried to escape from the Nazis during World War II gained a lot of popularity. She claimed to have walked all over Europe between the ages of 7 and 11, and she claimed that wolves protected her.
Now fast forward to the year 1991. Take the case of Oxana Malaya, I actually did a full news in History of her, so I’ll link to that at the end of this video. She was raised by dogs, having been abandoned by her parents.
The idea is a seductive one and as long as we are still fascinated by our relationship with wildlife, these stories will always continue to interest us.