Madina, Russia, 2013. Madina lived with dogs from birth until she was 3 years old, sharing their food, playing with them, and sleeping with them when it was cold in winter. When social workers found her in 2013, she was naked, walking on all fours and growling like a dog.
Madina's father had left soon after her birth. Her mother, 23 years old, took to alcohol. She was frequently too drunk to look after for her child and often disappeared. She would frequently invite local alcoholics to visit the house. Her alcoholic mother would sit at the table to eat while her daughter gnawed bones on the floor with the dogs. Madina would run away to a local playground when her mother got angry, but the other children wouldn’t play with her as she could hardly speak and would fight with everyone. So dogs became her best and only friends. Doctors reported that Madina is mentally and physically healthy despite her ordeal. There is a good chance that she will have a normal life once she has learned to speak more like a child her age. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
The Leopard Boy, India, 1912. The boy child was two years old when he was taken by a leopardess in 1912. Three years later, a hunter killed the leopardess and found three cubs, one of which was the now five year old boy. He was returned to his family in the small village in India. When first caught, he would only squat and ran on all fours as fast as an adult man could upright. His knees were covered with hard callouses, his toes were bent upright almost at right angles to his instep, and his palms, toe- and thumb-pads were covered with a tough, horny skin. He bit and fought with everyone who approached him and caught and ate the village fowl raw. He could not speak, uttering only grunts and growls. Eventually, he learned to speak and walked (more) upright. Sadly, he became gradually blinded by cataracts. This was not caused by his experiences in the jungle but hereditary in the family. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Prava (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 childcare by his mother, Prava was moved to a center for psychological care where doctors are trying to rehabilitate him still. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Genie, USA, 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 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. Over the years, she became a subject of much research. 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 behavior. 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 years later. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Oxana Malaya, Ukraine, 1991. Oxana was found living with dogs in a kennel in 1991. She was eight years old and had lived with the dogs for six years. Her parents were alcoholics and one night, they had left her outside. Looking for warmth, the three year old crawled into the farm kennel and curled up with the mongrel dogs, an act that probably saved her life. When discovered, she behaved more like a dog than a human child. She ran on all fours, panted with her tongue out, bared her teeth and barked. Because of her lack of human interaction, she only knew the words "yes" and "no." Intensive therapy aided Oxana to learn basic social and verbal skills, but only with the ability of a five year old. Now 30 years old, she lives in a clinic in Odessa and works with the hospital's farm animals under the supervision of her carers
© Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Sujit Kumar (The Chicken Boy), Fiji, 1978. Sujit exhibited dysfunctional behavior as a child. His parents then 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 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.
© Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Kamala and Amala, India, 1920. Kamala, 8 years old, and Amala, 1, were found in 1920 in a wolves' den. It is one of the most famous cases of feral children. 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 were exceptional. Amala died the following year after their capture. Meanwhile Kamala eventually learned to walk upright and say a few words, but died in 1929 of kidney failure at the age of 17. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Shamdeo, India, 1972. Shamdeo, a boy of 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. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Victor (The Wild Boy of Aveyron), France, 1797. This is a historical but surprisingly well-documented case of a feral child. He was very much researched at the time to attempt to understand the origins of language. Victor was seen at the end of the 18th century in the woods of Saint Sernin sur Rance, in the south of France and captured. Somehow he escaped, but on January 8, 1800 he was caught again. He was about 12 years old, his body covered in scars and he was unable to speak a word. Once the news of his capture spread, many came forward wanting to examine him. Little is known about his time as a feral child, but it is believed that he spent 7 years in the wild. A biology professor examined Victor's resistance to cold by sending him naked outside in the snow. Victor showed no ill effect from the cold temperature whatsoever.
Others tried to teach him to speak and behave "normally," but made no progress. He was probably able to talk and hear earlier in his life, but he was never able to do so after returning from the wild. Eventually he was taken to an institution in Paris and died at the age of 40. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Ivan Mishukov, Russia, 1998. Ivan was abused by his family and ran away when only 4 years old. He lived on the streets begging. He developed a relationship with a pack of wild dogs, and shared the food he begged with the dogs. The dogs grew to trust him and eventually he became something of a pack leader. He lived for two years in this way, but he was finally caught and placed in a children's home. Ivan benefited from his existing language skills that he maintained through begging. This and the fact that he was feral for only a reasonably short time aided his recovery. He now lives a normal life. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Marie Angelique Memmie Le Blanc (The Wild Girl of Champagne), France, 1731. Apart from her childhood, Memmie's story from the 18th century is surprisingly well-documented. For ten years, she walked thousands of miles alone through the forests of France. She ate birds, frogs and fish, leaves, branches and roots. Armed with a club, she fought off wild animals, especially wolves. She was captured, aged 19, hairy and with claws. When Memmie knelt down to drink water she made repeated sideways glances, the result of being in a state of constant alertness. She couldn't speak and communicated only with shrieks and squeaks. She skinned rabbits and birds and ate them raw. For years she did not eat cooked food. Memmie's recovery from her experiences in the wild were remarkable. She learned to read, write and speak French fluently. In 1747 she became a nun although eventually fell ill became destitute. Luckily, she found a rich patron to support her so that in 1755, she published her own biography. Memmie died financially well-off in Paris in 1775, aged 63.© Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Marina Chapman, Columbia, 1959. Marina was kidnapped at the age of 5 from a remote South American village and left by her kidnappers in the jungle. She lived with a family of capuchin monkeys for five years before she was discovered by hunters. She ate berries, roots and bananas; slept in holes in trees and walked on all fours, like the monkeys. Marina had lost her language completely by the time she was rescued by hunters. She was sold by the hunters into a brothel, escaped and lived as a street urchin. When Marina reached her mid-teens, she was offered a job as a housekeeper and nanny. The family moved with Marina to the UK in 1977, where she settled. She married and had children. Marina and her younger daughter, Vanessa James, co-authored a book about her feral experiences. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.
Rochom P’ngien (Jungle Girl), Cambodia, 2007. Rochom was a grown woman when she was caught in January, 2007 after stealing food from a villager's lunch box. A village policeman claimed that she was his 27 year old daughter—he recognized a prominent scar on her back. He claimed that in 1988, at eight years of age, she went missing with her 6-year old sister while herding water buffalo. It was assumed that they got lost in the jungle. The sister was never found. Rochom had difficulty adjusting to civilization. In February 2008, she disappeared for a few days but then returned. By July 2008, she could feed, bathe and dress herself but still could not speak. She was hospitalized in October 2009 since she refused to eat. She took to living and sleeping in a small chicken coop near the family's home, but would join the family for meals every three or four days. Even now, she has never learned to speak. © Julia Fullerton-Batten. Finalist, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.