I Can Has Cheezburger? Newsletter

The Incredible Stories Of 10 Kids Raised By Animals

  • 1

    Traian Caldara

    Cheezburger Image 9210191616

    If you're going to make a go of it in the wild, dogs are a pretty good surrogate family to have. There are numerous stories of feral canines showing compassion and kindness to human children. One of the most interesting that we know of is the tale of Traian Caldara, who ran away from his abusive father into the wilds of Romania at the age of four. He managed to survive for three whole years in the harsh wilderness. It's believed that the packs of dogs that roam the area took him under their wing, giving him a warm place to sleep at night. He was eventually found by a shepherd huddled up in a cardboard box for warmth and brought back to his mother. You can't take the dog out of the boy that fast, though - shortly after their reunion, Traian almost got killed running in front of a car to chase a cat.

  • Advertisement
  • 2

    Marina Chapman

    Cheezburger Image 9210191872

    Primates are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, so it's not absurd to think that they might take care of a helpless young human if the need presented itself. Marina Chapman was born in Colombia and at some point before her fifth birthday she was kidnapped by unknown people and abandoned in the rain forest. Traumatized from the experience, she bonded with a group of capuchin monkeys. Already much bigger than the animals, Marina spent five years living with them, scavenging food and hiding from hunters. Her life didn't get better when she rejoined humanity, as she was sold into a brothel and eventually escaped to Bogotá in her teens.

  • 3

    Sidi Mohamed

    Cheezburger Image 9210192128

    Kids get angry at their parents a lot, but few take it as far as Sidi Mohamed. At the age of five, he ran away from his parents in South Africa and wound up with an ostrich mother who was in the process of hatching chicks. For some reason, the notoriously rude birds took a liking to the young man and he ended up living among them for a whopping ten years. He managed to forage enough food out on the plains to survive and grew into a fast runner out of necessity. His life with the birds came to an end when a group of ostrich hunters on horses spotted him and took several hours to run him ragged until he tired and they were able to lasso him. He was reunited with his parents but always pined for his ostrich family.

  • 4

    Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja

    Cheezburger Image 9210192640

    If you're a parent and you feel doubt about your abilities, remember: at least you didn't sell your son to an itinerant goatherd. That's what happened to Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja, who was cut loose by his family at the age of seven. When the goatherd died a few years later, Pantoja decided to remain alone up in the Sierra Morena mountains of Spain, foraging for food. It wasn't long before he drew the attention of a wolf pack. After a few false starts, he gained their trust and started to spend much of his time with them. Pantoja was discovered by Spanish police at the age of 19, having lost most of his facility with language. He was handed over to nuns, who made him walk with a piece of wood in the back of his shirt to correct his forager's stoop, and now lives alone in a small house in Galicia.

  • Advertisement
  • 5

    Sujit Kumar

    Cheezburger Image 9210193920

    In most of these stories, we're happy for the poor kid who gets brought back to civilization. But in the case of Sujit Kumar, the "chicken boy" of Fiji, humanity was far worse for him than his temporary poultry parents. After his parents died, he was entrusted to grandparents who couldn't take care of him and wound up locked in a chicken coop for four years. His formative years were shaped by the behaviors of the birds, and he still scrapes at the ground for food and communicates with clicking noises from his throat. Kumar was found by police after wandering out of the coop and brought to an old folks' home, where he spent the next two decades strapped to a bed before human rights advocates learned about his story and freed him.

  • 6

    John Ssebunya

    Cheezburger Image 9210194432

    Domestic violence seems to be a trigger for many of these children to abandon their human lives for the wild. Ugandan preschooler John Ssebunya was only two or three-years- old when he witnessed his father murder his mother in cold blood. Afraid for his life, he fled into the jungle. Near the brink of death, he was saved by a group of vervet monkeys who brought him sweet potatoes, roots and nuts to eat. The primates realized that the boy posed no threat to them, and over the next year or so let him into their society, teaching him how to climb trees and forage for his own food. When a woman from a nearby village spotted the child running with the monkeys, she managed to capture him and bring him back to humanity. He has managed to adjust fairly well, losing many of his vervet habits and developing a beautiful singing voice.

  • 7

    Vanya Yudin

    Cheezburger Image 9210195200

    Most of the stories on this list are people raised by wild animals, but let's take a left turn and go domesticated. In 2008, Russian social workers gained access to an apartment in Kirovsky and discovered it to be full of dozens of birds and one very confused seven year old boy. Vanya Yudi had been essentially abandoned by his 31-year- old mother, who never used human language with him. Instead, he learned how to communicate with his bird "siblings" using clicks, chirps and whistles. He was remanded into foster care while his mother was institutionalized, and that's the last we've heard of him. Maybe he's in training to be an airline pilot by now.

  • Advertisement
  • 8


    Cheezburger Image 9210195712

    Here's another primate story, but this one a good deal more heartrending. "Bello" was the name given to a physically and mentally disabled Nigerian child when he was rescued from the Falgore forest south of Kano in 2002. The boy is believed to have spent a year and a half in the wild with a band of chimpanzees after being abandoned by his parents. Over the course of his eighteen months with his monkey family, Bello learned how to walk like a chimp, with his torso slung low and his hands dragging on the ground. He also communicated only in squawks and grunts. The managers of the orphanage gave up hope on finding his birth parents and worked to bring him as close to civilized as they could.

  • 9

    Ivan Mishukov

    Cheezburger Image 9210196480

    Most of these stories take place in the wilderness, where the lack of human intervention makes it possible for children to stay with their new animal families for an extended period of time. And then there's Ivan Mishukov, who spent two years living on the streets of Moscow with a pack of feral dogs. At the age of four, he ran away from home and won the trust of the dog pack by stealing food from them. It wasn't long before the animals protected him like a brother. Moscow police tried to separate the young man from the animals multiple times, finally succeeding by laying a bait of a bunch of raw meat into a restaurant and trapping the dogs inside. Mishukov was easily re-integrated into society and at last word was enlisted in the Russian army.

  • 10

    Dina Sanichar

    Cheezburger Image 9210193408

    Nobody's exactly sure how Dina Sanichar got into that cave outside of Bulandshahr, India in 1864. The first sighting of the "Wolf Boy" came when hunters spied a nude young man in the deep bush. They were shocked when he followed a wolf into her den on all fours. Using a torch, they smoked the mother wolf out of the den and killed it, capturing Dina and taking him to an orphanage. He initially was unable to cope with human society, tearing off any clothes put on him and only eating raw meat. Eventually most of his wild habits were gone, but he never learned how to speak so could never tell the story of how he got adopted by wolves.


Next on I Can Has Cheezburger?

Scroll down for the next article