Julia Fullerton-Batten is a photographer based in London who started her professional career in 2001. Now she is quickly developing a reputation as one of Europe’s finest young photographers that use interesting subjects.
In 2005, she introduced Teenage Stories, a photo series that explored the transition of a girl to womanhood. Since then, her career skyrocketed with more and more projects.
Recently, she started a new photo series that featured people who grew up under strange circumstances. She called it Feral Children. She explained that a girl with no name “inspired me to search further for other cases of feral children. I found that there were quite a number of these. Some cases resulted from children becoming lost, snatched by wild animals, and especially those left or neglected by their parents. The documented cases exist over four of the five continents.”
Below are some photos included in Fullerton-Batten’s Feral Children.
Prava, The Bird Boy
Place of Origin: Russia
When he was found in 2008, Prava was just a 7-year-old boy living with his 31-year-old mom in a small two-bedroom apartment. He was inside a room filled with bird feed, bird cages, bird droppings, and dozens of pet birds—all owned by his mother.
Apparently, he was treated like a pet. Though he wasn’t physically harmed, his mother never really spoke to him. The only beings that communicated with him were the birds. For that reason, he didn’t learn how to speak; he only chirped like birds. Whenever he felt people didn’t understand him, he would just wave his arms.
Eventually, Prava’s mother decided to release him. He was moved to a center for psychological care, where medical experts tried to rehabilitate the young boy.
John Ssebunya, The Monkey Boy
Place of Origin: Uganda
In 1988, at the age of 3, John Ssebunya witnessed a very horrible incident that made him decide to walk away from home—he saw his father kill his own mother. He immediately fled to the jungle, where he grew up with monkeys.
Three years after, he was captured and brought to an orphanage. While he was being cleaned, it was found out that his entire body was covered in hair and that he only ate sweet potatoes, cassava, nuts, and roots in order to survive. Aside from that, doctors also discovered he had a severe case of intestinal worms, which were already more than half a meter long.
Because John walked like monkeys, he had calluses on his knees. Nevertheless, he still knows how to speak like humans. In fact, he has a very good singing voice. Now he is going on tours all across the United Kingdom, alongside the 20-member Pearl of Africa Children’s Choir.
Place of Origin: USA
When Genie was still very young, her father thought she was retarded. So, he restrained her in a toilet seat and confined her in a small room in the house. For ten years, she lived alone, sleeping in the same chair.
In 1970, Genie and her mother showed up at a child services center. A social worker immediately noticed that she wasn’t trained to use the toilet, she strangely moved sideways, and she couldn’t speak or produce any sound.
Thankfully, with the help of social workers, she slowly learned to speak a couple of words, although grammar was still an issue. She also practiced reading simple texts and developed a limited form of social behavior.
There was a point when she lived again with her mother, but later on, she had to be passed over to different foster homes because she was experiencing harassment and abuse. When she was brought back to a children’s hospital, it was discovered that she had reverted back to silence.
For several years, her condition became the subject of several researches. However, for some reasons, funding for the research and treatment of Genie stopped in 1974. Since then, nobody knew what happened to her, until one day, a private investigator found her in a private facility for adults who are underdeveloped mentally.
Kamala and Amala
Place of Origin: India
In 1920, 8-year-old Kamala and 12-year-old Amala were discovered in a wolves’ den by Rev. Joseph Singh. In an effort to save them, he hid in a tree above the cave where they were spotted.
As soon as the wolves left, he went down to capture the girls. However, it turned out the task was harder than he expected. The girls growled, howled, ran using their arms and legs, and didn’t appear like humans. They also ate nothing but raw meat. Their bodies are physically deformed with the joints and tendons in their legs and arms shortened. But what’s amazing about them is that they had exceptional sense of sight, hearing, and smell.
The following year after the girls were captured, Amala died. On the other hand, Kamala began to walk upright and spoke a few words. In 1929, she also died due to kidney failure.
Place of Origin: Ukraine
In 1991, Oxana was found living with dogs in an enclosure. At that time, she was only an 8-year-old, but she had already spent six years of her life living with dogs. According to stories, her parents were alcoholic and then one night, she was just left outside.
Because she was looking for a place that could keep her warm, she crawled into a farm and curled up with dogs. When she was discovered, she behaved like dogs, running on all fours, barking, and panting with her tongue out. Because she didn’t have much human interaction, she only knew several words like “yes” and “no”.
Through intensive therapy, Oxana learned basic verbal and social skills. Now she lives in a clinic in Odessa, where she is assigned to work in the farm animal section of the hospital.
The Leopard Boy
Place of Origin: India
In 1912, a two-year-old boy was taken by one of the wild’s biggest cats, the leopardess, from his home. Three years after, a hunter found the leopardess and killed it, but with it he saw three cubs. One of them was the young boy. So the hunter immediately returned him to his family living in a small village in India.
When he was first seen, he could run as fast as an adult man—but on all fours. His knees were covered with callouses and his thumb-pads had a rough, pointed skin. He could not utter a single word. He even fought and bit anyone who tried to approach him.
Eventually though, he learned to walk and speak properly. Unfortunately, he became gradually blind due to cataracts. It was not caused by his experiences in the jungle but an illness that ran in the blood.
Place of Origin: Colombia
In 1954, Marina Chapman was kidnapped from a South American village but was left by the kidnappers in the jungle. At the age of 5, she learned to live with a family of small monkeys. She ate berries, bananas, and roots. She also slept in the holes of trees and walked on all fours.
One night, she was food-poisoned. An elderly monkey then brought her to a pool of water and forced her to drink. After that, she was able to recover. And then, a group of small monkeys befriended her. She was taught how to climb and swing from one tree to another. She was also informed which fruits were safe to eat.
By the time she was captured by hunters, she had already lost her language completely. She was sold by the hunters into a house of prostitution. But she managed to escape and lived as a street child. She ended up as a slave of a mafia-style family.
Thankfully, she was saved by a neighbor and was sent to Bogota. There, she was cared for and loved. When she reached the age of maturity, she was offered a job as a nanny and a housekeeper by another family member. She accepted it and moved with the new family to Bradford, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom in 1977.
In the United Kingdom, she got married and had children. Alongside Vanessa James, her younger daughter, they co-authored a book about her experiences in the wild.
Place of Origin: Russia
Because he was abused by his family, Ivan escaped home when he was 4. He lived on the streets and survived by begging food. Days passed, and he saw himself living with a pack of wild dogs. He lived off begging for food, which he shared with his animal companions.
Eventually, the dogs learned to trust him, and he became more like their leader. For two years, he lived that way until he was found and placed in a home for children. Because he was often spotted on the streets begging for food, he retained his language skills. And the fact that he was only feral for a short time, he was able to recover faster. Now he lives a normal life.
Lobo Wolf Girl
Place of Origin: Mexico
In 1845, a young girl was spotted running on all fours with a pack of wolves, and they were attacking a herd of goats. The next year, she was seen with the same pack of wolves eating a goat. She was immediately captured, but she managed to escape. Seven years later, she was seen carrying two wolf cubs. As soon as humans tried to approach her, she quickly ran into the forest. Since then, she was never seen again.
Victor, The Wild Boy of Aveyron
Place of Origin: France
Although it happened centuries ago, Victor’s story is surprisingly a well-documented case of a feral child. This is because he was used as the basis of various researches, which aimed to find the derivation of language.
By the end of the eighteenth century, Victor was seen in the woods of Saint Sernin sur Rance, France. He was caught, but he managed to escape. On January 8, 1800, he was captured again. At that time, he was already 12 years old but was still unable to utter a word.
As soon as the news about his captivity spread, lots of people became interested in examining him. While little is known about his origins, it is believed that he spent 7 years as a feral in the wild.
In one study, a biology professor tested Victor’s resistance to cold. He sent him naked outside in the snow, and as expected, his body temperature didn’t suffer due to the cold temperature. He was also taught how to speak and behave normally, but unfortunately, there was no progress.
Eventually, Victor was brought to an institution in Paris, where he died at the age of 40.
Marie Angelique Memmie Le Blanc, The Wild Girl of Champagne
Place of Origin: France
Marie Angelique’s story is also a well-documented account of a feral child from the eighteenth century. For ten years, she traveled alone and walked the forests of France. She only fed on leaves, roots, branches, fish, frogs, and birds. In order to fight off wild creatures like wolves, she always carried with her a club.
At the age of 19, she was captured. Her thumbs were disfigured as she used them to dig out food and swing from one tree to another like a monkey. She also acted strange. Whenever she knelt down to drink water, she repeatedly glanced sideways. She also skinned birds and rabbit and ate them raw.
In 1737, the Queen of Poland, mother to the French Queen, went to France. She decided to take Marie Angelique with her. She was surprised to see the lady running fast enough to catch and kill rabbits. Fortunately, through the efforts and support of some rich patrons, she was able to recover and live normally. She was taught how to write, read, and speak French fluently.
After a decade, she became a nun. However, it was only for a short time because she got very ill. She died financially stable in Paris at the age of 63.
Place of Origin: India
In 1972, a 4-year-old boy named Shamdeo was discovered in a forest in India. He was playing with a pack of wolves. He had a very dark skin and a sharp teeth. He also had long fingernails and calluses all over his knees, palms, and elbows. Because he bonded so much with dogs, he learned to hunt animals. He even had a weird craving for blood. But in the long run, he managed to stop eating raw meat. Still, he never talked. He only learned how to use sign language.
Later on, he was admitted to Mother Theresa‘s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Lucknow, where he got his new name, Pascal. On February 1985, he died.
Sujit Kumar, Chicken Boy
Place of Origin: Fiji
As a child, Sujit Kumar showed a dysfunctional behavior that made his parents decide to lock him in a chicken coop. After which, his father was killed, and his mother committed suicide. Although his grandpa took responsibility of him, he was still confined in the chicken coop.
At the age of 8, he was found in the middle of a road, flapping and clucking like a chicken. He also pecked at his food and made abrupt clicking noises using his tongue. His fingers were noticeably turned inward. He was then taken by care workers to an old home.
Since he was so aggressive, he was tied to his bed for more than two decades. When he turned 30, he was rescued by Elizabeth Clayton, who then cared for him.
Place of Origin: Russia
Since birth, Madina lived with dogs. She shared food with them, played with them, ate with them, and slept with them during winter. When she turned 3, she was found by social workers naked and growling like a dog.
According to stories, Madina’s father abandoned her after birth. Her mother, who was then 23-year-old, was an alcoholic. She was always very drunk that she could not look after her child. Sometimes, she even invited other alcoholics to visit and drink with her.
While her mother was drinking, Madina was gnawing bones on the floor with the dogs. Whenever her mother got angry, she ran away to a playground. Sad to say, other children didn’t want to play with her because she was different, so dogs became her only friends.
Despite her condition, doctors said she was mentally and physically healthy. They also said there were chances that she’d live a normal life as soon as she learned to speak.