A feral child is one which has lived isolated from human contact, often from a very young age. As a result the child grows up with little or no experience of human care, behaviour or language. Some were cruelly confined or abandoned by their own parents, rejected perhaps because of their intellectual or physical impairment, or the parent’s belief that this was the case. In other instances the loss of both parents was the cause. Others ran away after experiencing abuse. Yet more ended up in the wild and were ‘adopted’ by animals as a result of a wide variety of circumstances – getting lost, being taken by wild animals, etc.
Documented cases of feral children are geographically spread over four continents, and vary in age from babies taken by wild animals up to eight year olds. Of course, these cases are only known of because the child survived. It is not difficult to think that there are probably untold cases where the outcome was less favourable.
It is documented that, in most cases where rescued children were very young before becoming feral they do not recover or develop the ability to speak or adjust to normal life and in some cases do not even move as normal human beings, preferring to continue for a long time to walk on all fours, climb trees, eat raw flesh, etc.. There are only a few instances where they have completely adjusted to a normal life - speaking, reading, writing, and communicating. There are several instances where the rescued child became the subject of intensive scientific research – to attempt to determine the origin of speech and language.