Study about wild children
Feral Children http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A269840/ All below from: http://www.feralchildren.com/en/index.php Genie, a modern-day Wild Child Acute social deprivation Genie (not Jeanie, Geanie, Jeannie or Geannie and, in any case, not her real name) is a modern-day "wild child" who, until discovery at the age of 13, had lived in a state of severe sensory and social deprivation. Strapped to a potty-chair in her home in Temple City, Los Angeles, California, Genie wasn't taught to speak, and was denied normal human interaction. Read the full story of Genie Scroll down for The Story of Genie. You can also read more about Genie online in The Civilizing of Genie by Maya Pines, a chapter from Teaching English through the Disciplines: Psychology. You can also read this transcript from the NOVA documentary on Genie. What happened to Genie? When she reached 18, Genie was returned to the care of her mother, where she stayed only a few months. Genie then lived in six different foster homes (sometimes receiving further abusive treatment), and then moved to sheltered accommodation (a care home for adults who cannot live alone) in Southern California. She is still there now, and apparently doing reasonably well under the circumstances. Further reading, viewing and listening Genie features in many books, especially Russ Rymer's Genie: A Scientific Tragedy and Genie: An Abused Child's Flight from Silence (both essentially the same book). For a response to a review of this book, see this letter from Susie Curtiss and Vicki Fromkin. An extensive chapter of Savage Girls and Wild Boys by Michael Newton is devoted to Genie, and the book also has photographs. The film Mockingbird Don't Sing is based on the story of Genie. Genie's story is also told in the Nova TV programme Secret of the Wild Child, and in a rather expensive BBC video Genie: A Deprived Child. Genie was the inspiration for the song Crooked Teeth by Muncie indie rock group Killjoy Confetti. The lyrics are reproduced with permission: Crooked Teeth and you can also download the MP3 on that page. Genie and Language Acquisition The case of Genie, and the difficulties she faced in learning to speak, are widely quote as evidence for the critical period hypothesis. However, read Jones (Contradictions And Unanswered Questions In The Genie Case) for a critical review of the way in which the evidence from Genie has been represented in different ways at different times. If you're interested in the detailed source material, essential reading is Genie: A Pyscholingustic Study of a modern-day "wild child" by Susan Curtiss, which you should find in any good library. The Story of Genie On November 4, 1970 a girl was discovered. She had been locked in a room alone for over ten years. She was tied to a potty chair and left to sit alone day after day. At night, she was tied into a sleeping bag which restrained her arms. She was put into an over-sized crib with a cover made of metal screening. Often she was forgotten. On those nights she slept tied to the potty chair. At first, people could hardly believe that Genie was thirteen years old. While she seemed to understand a few words, the only words she could say were, "stopit" and "nomore." She had a strange bunny-like walk— she held her hands up in front of her like paws and moved in a halting way. She could not chew solid food and could hardly swallow. She spat constantly. She sniffed. She was not toilet-trained and could not focus her eyes beyond 12 feet. She weighed 59 pounds and was 54 inches tall. Genie was rescued and put in Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, California. Genie's mental and physical development began almost immediately. By the third day in the hospital, Genie began helping dress herself and using the toilet voluntarily. She began moving more smoothly. She was hungry to learn words, pointing at things until people would give her a word for them. Scientists wondered, "Did Genie have a normal learning capacity? Could a nurturing, enriched environment make up for Genie's horrible past? Would it be possible for Genie to recover completely?" This is how the "experiment" began. A team of scientists (referred to as the Genie Team) began working with Genie. They wanted to find out what they could about how humans learn. Over 200 years ago, scientists had studied another "wild child" in France named Victor. They called that case "The Forbidden Experiment." Genie's case was similar because it would be unthinkable to lock up or put a child in such severe isolation on purpose. But having discovered a child who had been isolated, scientists wanted to learn from that experience. Was that wrong? As with Victor, people wondered if scientists should be studying Genie. Could she be both studied and taken care of well? Or should the Genie research be forbidden? Within several months Genie had a vocabulary of over one hundred words that she understood, though she was still very silent. Her talking was limited to short high-pitched squeaks that were hard to understand. The team of scientists discovered that Genie had been beaten for making noise. It was hard to know if her inability to talk was a result of living so long without interacting with other humans, being in an impoverished environment with little sensory stimulation, or because she had been abused. Genie began to become emotionally attached to some of the scientists who spent time with her. One scientist made sure that he was there every morning when Genie woke up, for important events during the day, and to put her to bed each night, in order to build a sense of family. Some people thought that it was necessary to feel connected to other humans before one could learn to speak. After about six months, Genie lived in a foster home. The father of the family she lived with was the head of the Genie Team. Genie continued to recover and develop. She ran, giggled, and smiled. People commented that in some ways she seemed like a normal 18-20-month-old child. If you were to give her a toy, she would feel it gently first with her fingertips. Then she would rub it against her mouth and face, using her lips to feel the object. Genie did not seem to know when to use her eyes and when to use her sense of touch. Genie's scientist "friends" took her on daily outings—walks through the neighborhood, visits to stores. Genie was so curious and hungry for experiences. She would demand to know the names for all the things in stores, almost faster than she could be told. She would pick up items and intently explore them. Even strangers felt compelled to help her learn about the world. A butcher, who knew nothing about Genie, used to hand her an unwrapped bone, piece of meat or fish each time she passed by his shop. She would explore it by rubbing it on her lips and face. Other strangers would go out of their way to give Genie things. Somehow her thirst for learning about her world showed. Many scientists came from all over to meet and observe Genie. They argued and debated about what research to do, as did the Genie Team itself. What could Genie best help scientists discover about learning? Could they conduct their research without interfering with her wellbeing? Genie's vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds, but she was still not able to string words together into meaningful sentences. Normal children begin by learning to say simple sentences, like "No have toy." Soon they are able to say "I not have toy." Eventually they will learn to say, "I do not have the toy.' Later they will refine the sentence to say, "I don't have the toy." Genie seemed to be stuck at the first stage. We do learn many words from experience, from seeing, hearing, reading, and asking. But some scientists think that learning how to speak in sentences and sensing how words get put together in logical order also depends on something that is built into our brains from birth. Was Genie's brain missing something which was necessary for learning language? Scientists began to wonder if Genie was mentally retarded. If she was, had she been mentally retarded from birth? Had she been injured? Or was the retardation a result of her brain being deprived of good nutrition and/or stimulation? How had her poor diet and isolated upbringing affected her growing brain? Over the next couple of years, some scientists concluded that Genie was not mentally retarded, even though she was still unable to master language. She was brilliant at nonverbal communication. Sometimes she would be so frustrated at not being able to say what she wanted that she would grab a pencil and paper and in a few strokes, illustrate fairly complex ideas and even feelings. She scored the highest recorded score ever on tests that measure a person's ability to make sense out of chaos and to see patterns. Her abilities to understand and to think logically were also strong. She had a perfect score on an adult-level test that measured spatial abilities. One test required that she use a set of colored sticks to recreate a complicated structure from memory. She was not only able to build the structure perfectly, she built it with sticks of the exact same color as the first structure! Despite all this, Genie remained unable to master the basics of language. Scientists wondered—-could she ever be taught to speak? If so, how would her brain have to grow and adapt to do so? Could a teenager still learn to talk or is the structure of language something that must be learned in the early years of life when the brain is growing and changing so much? In most humans, both sides of the brain are involved in every task, but some tasks result in more electrical activity on the right side of the brain and some in more activity on the left side of the brain. Scientists noticed that Genie was particularly good, quick, and confident at those tasks that involved more of the right brain. She was hesitant at tasks that require equal coordination between the two sides of the brain. She failed at tasks that involved more of the left brain, such as language. One of the last tests that was done on Genie measured what parts of her brain were active as she conducted different kinds of tasks. Scientists were shocked at how unbalanced the activity in her brain was. There was almost no left brain activity. Her tests looked similar to tests of children who had to have their left brains removed. Some scientists thought this explained her inability to learn language. Whether this was correct or not, it raised the question: Why was her brain activity so lopsided? Does the left brain develop in those critical early years of life when Genie was so isolated? Does the left brain need to receive stimulation and hear language to develop? After about five years of researching Genie's progress, the Genie Team lost their funding from the government agency that had awarded the research grant. The scientists at this agency felt that the Genie Team was not doing good scientific research because the tests Genie was being given were not producing enough new information. At the same time that these people felt that Genie wasn't being tested enough, others felt that Genie was being over- tested. Genie's mother, encouraged by one of Genie's old teachers, tried to sue the Genie Team for "cruel" treatment of Genie. Their lawsuit claimed that Genie was exhausted by the testing and that the interests of science were being viewed as more important than Genie's personal development. In the late 1970s Genie's mother forbid the Genie Team from having contact with Genie. Even though she at first lived again with her mother, her mother was unable to care for Genie herself, and Genie had to be sent to a series of foster homes. In one of these homes she was again abused—this time punished for vomiting. Genie responded by not opening her mouth for several months. Genie began to deteriorate both physically and mentally. Genie's mother moved and placed Genie in a home for retarded adults. Genie is said to still live in a home for retarded adults. "Genie" is not her real name. It was first given to her by the scientists in an effort to protect her privacy. Now her privacy is guarded by her mother. She has no contact with any of the scientist who worked with her and come to love her. Several books have been written about her, and a television documentary program was also made about the story of Genie. From Learning About Learning, a teacher's guide in the Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS) series from the Lawrence Hall of Science, copyright by The Regents of the University of California. There are more than 70 teacher's guides and handbooks in the GEMS series, available from GEMS, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720, (510) 642-7771. Visit the LHS GEMS web site for more information. © LHS GEMS. May not be reproduced without permission. Kamala and Amala, the Wolf Girls of Midnapore Kamala and Amala are two of the most interesting cases of feral children. The wolf girls were about 18 months (Amala) and eight years old (Kamala) when they were found together in a wolves' den. However, it is believed that they were not sisters, but were abandoned — or taken by wolves — some years apart. Read more Scroll down for the story of Kamala and Amala. Many books about feral children include the story of the two wolf girls. Newton's book Savage Girls and Wild Boys includes a chapter on Kamala and Amala and other Indian wolf children, and reveals how, throughout their short and sad lives, like so many other feral children — from Henri of 1344 onwards — they longed to return to their home in the wild. Singh's diaries You can read Singh's detailed diaries about the girls here, which were subsequently published as Wolf Children and Feral Man by Singh and Zingg. Other books featuring Kamala and Amala Other books to feature the girls include The Wolf Children: Fact or Fantasy? and Wolf Child and Human Child, while, for children, there's The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History. A useful journal article is Kamala of Midnapore and Arnold Gesell's Wolf Child and Human Child: Reconciling the Extraordinary and the Normal. What a Word Can Hold — a poem about Kamala and Amala Many thanks to Erin Noteboom for kind permission to reproduce her poem What a Word Can Hold. Wolf Children and the Bifold Mind Copyright © 1993 John McCrone Visit John McCrone's consciousness web site This is an extract from a chapter of The Myth of Irrationality, by John McCrone In 1920, however, a case came to light that was too well documented to be dismissed so simply. In that year, Reverend Joseph Singh, a missionary in charge of an orphanage in Northern India, heard of two ghostly spirit figures seen accompanying a band of wolves near Midnapore in the Bengal jungle. The local villagers were fearful of these apparitions but local custom forbid them to do any harm to the wolves. Intrigued, Singh built a hide in a tree top over-looking the lair of the wolf pack, an old ten-foot high termite mound that had become hollowed out with time. As the moon rose, Singh saw the wolves come out one by one. Then sticking their heads out briefly to sniff the night air before bounding forwards into the clearing came two hunched and horrible figures. As Singh described the "ghosts" in his diary, they were: "Hideous looking...hand, foot and body like a human being; but the head was a big ball of something covering the shoulders and the upper portion of the bust…Their eyes were bright and piercing, unlike human eyes…Both of them ran on all fours." Singh returned some days later with a large hunting party to dig the creatures out. In his journal, he says that as the first pick-axe blows landed on the termite mound, the she-wolf came rushing out, baring her fangs and barring the way. She had to be shot dead with a volley of arrows. The hunting party then broke into the lair and hauled out the two human children, along with two wolf cubs. The children turned out to be two girls, aged about three and five. Their ghastly appearance came from the mass of matted hair on their heads and their hunched four legged gait. Otherwise they appeared lithe and healthy. Surprisingly, the two appeared not to be sisters but girls taken at separate times - further evidence of some distorted maternal instinct in the mother wolf. When no-one in the local villages came forward to claim the girls, Singh took them back to his orphanage, christening the elder one, Kamala, and the younger, Amala. Singh knew nothing of the stories of other feral children such as Victor and the Hessian wolfboys, but his description of Kamala and Amala were strikingly similar. The girls seemed to have no trace of humanness in the way they acted and thought. It was as if they had the minds of wolves. They tore off any clothes put on them and would only eat raw meat. They slept curled up together in a tight ball and growled and twitched in their sleep. They only came awake after the moon rose and howled to be let free again. They had spent so long on all fours that their tendons and joints had shortened to the point where it was impossible for them to straighten their legs and even attempt to walk upright. They never smiled or showed any interest in human company. The only emotion that crossed their faces was fear. Even their senses had become wolf-like. Singh claimed their eyes were supernaturally sharp at night and would glow in the dark like a cat's. They could smell a lump of meat right across the orphanage's three acre yard. Their hearing was also sharp - except, like Victor, the voice of humans seemed strangely inaudible to their ears. A poor but relatively well educated man, Singh did his best to rehabilitate his charges. Influenced by the horticultural model of child development, he theorised that the wolf habits acquired by Kamala and Amala had somehow blocked the free expression of their innate human characteristics. Singh felt it was his job (not least, for religious reasons) to wean the girls from their lupine ways and so allow their buried humanity to emerge. Unhappily, before his experiment had progressed far, the younger girl, Amala, sickened and died. This proved a great set-back to Kamala, who had only just started to lose her fear of other humans and her orphanage surroundings. Kamala went into a prolonged mourning and for a while, Singh feared for her life as well. But eventually Kamala recovered and Singh started a patient programme of rehabilitation. First, as Itard did with Victor, Singh had to socialise Kamala. Through a combination of massage to loosen the limbs and the dangling of food just out of reach, Singh coaxed Kamala into standing and walking. She never learnt to walk smoothly and would often revert to all fours, especially if she wanted to run, however Singh saw this as literally the first step towards getting her to "shake off" her wolf-like habits. Gradually, Singh trained Kamala to accept other human ways, teaching her to eat normal food, to sleep with the other children and to welcome the company of fellow humans. Singh was relatively successful in changing Kamala's outward behaviour, getting her walking and housetrained within a couple of years of her capture. But when it came to teaching her to speak, Singh struggled. Just before she died, Amala had been making promising progress towards speech, giving voice to the babbling and cooing noises that mark the first stage in a normal child's learning to talk. With Kamala, progress was much slower but Singh persevered. After three years, Kamala had mastered a small vocabulary of about a dozen words. After several more years, her vocabulary had increased to about 40. This was far more than Itard had managed with Victor (and using far less intensive training methods), but not really much of a victory for Singh. To compare, a normal two-year-old child, at the peak of its language learning, would find it easy to pick up 40 new words in a single week. Also, Kamala's words were only partly-formed and her grammar stilted. The Hindi word for medicine is ashad but Kamala would only pronounce half the word, saying "ud". Likewise, she would say bha for bhat (rice), bil for biral (cat) and tha for thala (plate). Singh made much of an incident when Kamala was given some dolls to play with and then a box to keep them in. Kamala shut the dolls away and "proudly" told the other children in the orphanage: "Bak-poo-voo." Singh interpreted this utterance as standing for "Baksa-pootoolvootara," — Hindi for "Box-doll-inside." While this broken sentence marks a significant step forward for a girl who was little more than a wolf cub a few years earlier — showing not just a use of language but the first glimmerings of a social awareness - Kamala's speech still fell a long way short of normally-reared children. The story of Singh and his two wolf-girls broke in the newspapers in 1926. As one London paper noted: "At clubs frequented by big game hunters and explorers it was the chief topic at the lunch table." In fact arguments became so heated about whether the story could be true or not that the next day, the same paper was reporting on a fist fight breaking out between two members of just such a gentleman's club over the story. However, the wolf-girls did not become a topic of debate within the scientific community until two books were published over a decade later, one by Arnold Gesell, the noted Yale University child specialist, and one by Robert Zingg, a Denver anthropologist, both of which were based on the diary kept by the Reverend Singh. Gesell summed up Kamala's progress, saying that at the age of 16, after nine years in the care of the orphanage, she still had the mind of a three and a half year old. But slow though Kamala's progress was, Gesell felt her story demonstrated just how mentally naked humans are when born and how much we rely on society to shape us. As he put it, human culture operates on the mind as "a large scale moulding matrix, a gigantic conditioning apparatus" without which we would remain at the level of animals. However, while more open-minded than most about the importance of a social mould in forging man's higher mental abilities, Gesell still was wedded to a horticultural view of mental development. He believed that culture "unlocks" our dormant abilities rather than, as the bifold model suggests, that these abilities are grafted on top of the raw material of the animal mind. So, for example, Gesell saw the gradual appearance of smiles and other sociable expressions on Kamala's face as the result of the loosening of rigid muscles rather than thinking that Kamala might have had to learn such emotional signals through contact with her fellow humans. Like Singh, Gesell spoke of Kamala's wolf-like habits as if they were just an overlay of copied behaviours that thinly papered over her true human nature — or as he put it: "motor sets [which] constituted the core of her action-system and affected the organisation of her personality." Gesell wondered whether, with a few more years, Kamala would have caught up eventually with other normal children or whether the traumas of her early years had left her somehow permanently stunted. The question was never answered because in 1929, Kamala caught typhoid and died. Her last words to Singh's wife — possibly too poignant to be true — were said to have been: "Mama, the little one hurts." Kamala and Amala, the Wolf Girls of Midnapore Date: 1920 Age: 8 Location: Midnapore, India Animals: wolves Learn more about Kamala in: Kaspar Hausers Geschwister The Wolf Girls : An Unsolved Mystery from History (Unsolved Mystery from History (Hardcover)) Wild Children: Growing Up Without Human Contact Feral Children and Clever Animals: Reflections on Human Nature Wolf Children and the Problem of Human Nature The Myth of Irrationality: The Science of the Mind from Plato to Star Trek Wolf Children Search This Site search powered by FreeFind Languages English change Main Menu Feral Children Home • • • • • Raised by animals Confined children Isolated children Hoaxes All feral children Development Language acquisition • Critical period • Forbidden experiment Physical • • • • • Neurological Psychosocial dwarfism Hypertrichosis Human-animal divide Dietary habits Psychological • • Nature-nurture debate Autism Fictional Children Children in fiction • • • • • Myth and legend Fiction books Movies Science Fiction Books about Legends Online Information • • • • Radio programmes Links Online documents Poems and lyrics Books, Films, Music • • • • • General books Children's books Poetry books Film and TV Music References • • • News articles Journal articles Reference books Forum Activity 2005-03-06 Isolation & Shipwreck by coughlin In relation to Isolation and Shipwreck, have … News Publications With 2004-04-01 An eight-year-old girl survives among animals on a mountainside. Feral Children Dominique 2004-10-19 A confined girl from Canada. Web Site Singh's diaries online 2004-11-01 Singh's diaries of the lives of Kamala and Amala at the Midnapore orphanage are now online in full. All text copyright © Andrew Ward, or the original author for reproduced articles and extracts. No material may be reproduced without the written consent of the copyright holder. Amazon prices subject to change. In association with Amazon.com. You are seeing this site customised for country United States. Traian Caldarar, the Romanian Dog Boy Romanian Dog-Boy Traian Caldarar is a Romanian boy who apparently lived wild, separated from his family, for three years. He is believed to have left the family home because of domestic violence. His mother, Lina Caldarar, said that she loved her son but had a violent partner, who was always beating her. When she lost Traian, she was distraught, and hoped he had perhaps been adopted by another family. She said: "When I fled, I lost contact with Traian, although I tried to get him back. He [the boy's father] didn't allow me to take my child, even though I tried to. He said the child belonged to him." Traian Caldarar's developmental condition Although aged seven when he was found, Traian Caldarar was only the size of a three-yearold, could not speak, and was naked and living in a cardboard box covered with a polythene sheet. He suffered from severe rickets, had infected injuries and his circulation was poor, possibly because of frostbite. Living with dogs? Doctors believe it would have been impossible for Traian to survive on his own and speculated that he received assistance from the many stray dogs in the Transylvanian countryside. He was found near the body of a dog that he had apparently been eating. Found by a shepherd Traian Caldarar was found after the car of a shepherd, Manolescu Ioan, broke down. Mr Ioan had to walk from his pastures and came across child who he reported to police, who later captured the boy. Train Caldarar's wild ways Traian walked with the bandy gait of a chimpanzee and tried to sleep under his bed rather than on it. Dr Mircea Florea said: "He was found in an animal position and his movements are animalistic. The facts show that he was not brought up in a social environment. He becomes very agitated when he does not have food. He is looking for something to eat all the time. He sleeps after he eats." Coincidence? Brasov is not a stranger to feral children: that's where the Wolf-boy of Kronstadt comes from. Traian Caldarar, the Romanian Dog Boy Date: 2002 Age: 7 Location: Brasov, Romănia Years in the wild: 3 Animals: dogs Search This Site search powered by FreeFind Languages English change Main Menu Feral Children Home • • • • • Raised by animals Confined children Isolated children Hoaxes All feral children Development Language acquisition • • Critical period Forbidden experiment Physical • • • • • Neurological Psychosocial dwarfism Hypertrichosis Human-animal divide Dietary habits Psychological • Nature-nurture debate • Autism Fictional Children Children in fiction • • • • • Myth and legend Fiction books Movies Science Fiction Books about Legends Online Information • • • • Radio programmes Links Online documents Poems and lyrics Books, Films, Music • • • • • General books Children's books Poetry books Film and TV Music References • • • News articles Journal articles Reference books Forum Activity 2005-03-06 Isolation & Shipwreck by coughlin In relation to Isolation and Shipwreck, have … News Publications With 2004-04-01 An eight-year-old girl survives among animals on a mountainside. Feral Children Dominique 2004-10-19 A confined girl from Canada. Web Site Singh's diaries online 2004-11-01 Singh's diaries of the lives of Kamala and Amala at the Midnapore orphanage are now online in full. All text copyright © Andrew Ward, or the original author for reproduced articles and extracts. No material may be reproduced without the written consent of the copyright holder. Amazon prices subject to change. In association with Amazon.com. You are seeing this site customised for country United States. John Ssebunya, the Ugandan Monkey Boy Domestic strife John Ssebunya was born in the mid 1980s, but ran away from home (probably aged around four) after seeing his mother murdered by his own father (who, according to some reports, subsequently hanged himself). Lived with monkeys It is generally accepted that John Ssebunya was cared for at least to some extent by green African (vervet) monkeys while in the jungle. Captured by hunters Details are confused, but it seems John was found by a tribeswoman or girl (called Millie) in 1991, hiding in a tree. She returned with menfolk from the village and, as is so often the case, not only did John resist capture but also his adoptive family came to his defence, throwing sticks at the villagers. Hypertrichosis Initial reports suggest John Ssebunya's entire body was covered with hair. When he defecated, he excreted worms over half a metre long (see Kamala and Amala). John Ssebunya identified Once captured and cleaned up — he was covered in scars and wounds, with knees scarred from crawling — he was identified as John Ssebunya. He was given by Millie to the care of Paul and Molly Wasswa, who run a charitable foundation for orphans. He couldn't talk or cry initially, but has subsequently learned to speak. This suggests that he may have learned some speech before his stay in the wild. From monkey boy to choir boy John now not only talks but also sings, and tours with the Pearl of Africa children's choir. John was the subject of the BBC documentary Living Proof, screened on 13 October 1999. Listen online to the story of John Ssebunya On the page of radio programmes is one (Everywoman) that starts with the story of John Ssebunya, and features John himself. Read more about John Ssebunya Below you can find the content of a letter revealing much of the story of John. And in his book Savage Girls and Wild Boys Newton tells us much more about John, and reports on his own meeting with the boy. John Ssebunya — the facts revealed This is a letter from James Cutler, Producer / Director of the BBC programme The Boy who Live with Monkeys, written to PJ Blumenthal, author of Kaspar Hausers Geswichsters. Please be aware that many, if not most of the press reports on the case of John Ssebunya have contained many errors of fact. These are the facts that I discovered when I visited Uganda to investigate an erroneous report that appeared on the internet in March: John lived in Kabonge village near Bombo, north of Kampala. The village has no real centre but is just a series of houses and smallholdings spread out over a few square miles. John ran and hid in a forest, about 2-3 km from his house after witnessing the murder of his mother by his father. His father was known to be an alcoholic and violent. John says he was so frightened of his father that he stayed in the forest. It is possible that he had some degree of mental handicap at that time and this may have contributed to the fact that he did not understand that he should have sought help from other adults. He was aged roughly 4 or 5 at the time that he was found in 1989 according to witnesses like Mrs Milly Sseba who found him in the forest. There is no birth certificate. I also spoke to a woman from another part of the village who had glimpsed John in the forest with the monkeys from time to time and who said to me "I could not catch him and bring him to my house because he was like a wild animal". I can give you her name if you wish. Millie Sseba had a different attitude and attempted to rescue him as soon as she saw him. He was on the point of death from malnutrition and treated for parasitic worms. Had she not captured him on the day that she did he probably would have died within days and his story would never have been known. At he time the fields near the forest were relatively unguarded owing to the effects of the previous 8 years of civil war in that area which caused frequent population movements. According to villagers the forest strip was heavily populated with monkeys at the time because of the civil war. Normally the people of Uganda would control monkeys as they are universally regarded as pests and vermin and are either killed or chased away on sight. Ugandans do not have any friendly feelings towards monkeys in the way that we might have when we see them in Zoos and Safari Parks. This is an important point. I visited the forest in question and even today with a much reduced monkey population there were signs (when I filmed) that the monkeys were "crop raiding" — ie, they were running into the adjacent fields and stealing bananas and cassava and yams. John says that in the forest he came across a group of monkeys. He says he was able to eat crops that the monkeys raided from the fields and that he went into the fields and stole food as well. There is no proof that the monkeys fed him — primatologists would regard this as very unlikely but are quite happy to accept that the monkeys stole more food than they needed and dropped some on the ground and John picked it up from the ground and ate it. John identified the mokes as Cercopithicus Aethiops (the common African Grey or Green Vervet Monkey). This is very significant as this is one of the very few species of mammal that lives in social groups and will accept and tolerate a lone individual of another species of monkey living alongside their group. Other monkeys and apes will not do this — chimpanzees for example would simply eat a human child. The primatologist Dr Debbie Cox working at the Uganda Wildlife and Education Centre in Entebbe was able to observe John's behaviour with a group of Cercopithicus Aethiops and from her expert standpoint pronounced that John was unique in her experience in that he was able to interact and communicate with the monkeys to a degree that she had never seen before in an untrained individual. She has observed Ugandan children with pet monkeys and they do not learn the monkeys' social behaviour in such circumstances. There is no evidence that John ever came into contact with monkeys before he went into the forest, and his life is documented since to the extent that one can say categorically that he has had no experience of monkeys since he was rescued from the forest. Monkeys are regarded as vermin as I said before and the worst insult a Ugandan can deliver is "You are the son of a monkey". Dr Cox estimated that to have learnt the complex body languages and sounds that John exhibited, he must have been accepted and tolerated as a peripheral member of a group of Cercopithicus Aethiops. For a lone individual this acceptance normally takes several months — at least two and probably four or more — hence she concluded that John must have spent a period of several months with a group of Cercopithicus Aethiops. I am not aware of any primatologist who would dispute this indeed Processor Douglas Candland, an animal behaviourist from Buckland University — and one of the world's leading figures who hosted this year's International Congress of Animal Behaviour — agreed with Dr Cox's conclusions "absolutely", and Professor Vernon Reynolds, of Oxford's School of Evolutionary Biology and himself a leading animal behaviourist, is also totally in agreement with her findings. However those findings are not evidence that the Tarzan myth is true (although they may show how the myth could arise apocryphally from a basis in fact). John was not raised by monkeys nor stolen by a baby, instead it is indisputable that he lived alongside a group of Cercopithicus Aethiops for several months and was tolerated and accepted as a peripheral member of the group but not a full member with a place in the social hierarchy. He is able to "play" with Cercopithicus Aethiops — you or I attempting to do so without prior knowledge or training would be attacked and/or injured if we attempted the same. It takes months to train students or keepers to the same level as John displays. He ran away and was able to survive in the forest because of a set of fortunate circumstances, but even so he would have died and been forgotten had he not been rescued when he was. Mille Sseba described him as covered in body hair. At the time of recording the film I thought this might have been his clothes which had rotted on his body and had mould growing on them and Millie mistook this for body hair. However, I have subsequently learnt that pronounced hirsutism can be one of the sequels of chronic malnutrition in a child of John's age, and this would be further supportive evidence that Millie's recollection and anecdotal evidence was correct. There are many witnesses who saw John when he was rescued. None sought publicity for him — indeed, he was kept from the public because of the perceived shamefulness of his experiences — it was only by chance the story appeared 10 years later as part of a web page about a charity that had taken him in. John Ssebunya, the Ugandan Monkey Boy Date: 1991 Age: 6 Location: Uganda Years in the wild: 3 Animals: monkeys Learn more about John Ssebunya in: Kaspar Hausers Geschwister Savage Girls and Wild Boys : A History of Feral Children Search This Site search powered by FreeFind Languages English change Main Menu Feral Children Home • • • • • Raised by animals Confined children Isolated children Hoaxes All feral children Development Language acquisition • • Critical period Forbidden experiment Physical • • • • • Neurological Psychosocial dwarfism Hypertrichosis Human-animal divide Dietary habits Psychological • • Nature-nurture debate Autism Fictional Children Children in fiction • • • • • Myth and legend Fiction books Movies Science Fiction Books about Legends Online Information • • • • Radio programmes Links Online documents Poems and lyrics Books, Films, Music • • • • • General books Children's books Poetry books Film and TV Music References • • • News articles Journal articles Reference books Forum Activity 2005-03-06 Isolation & Shipwreck by coughlin In relation to Isolation and Shipwreck, have … News Publications With 2004-04-01 An eight-year-old girl survives among animals on a mountainside. Feral Children Dominique 2004-10-19 A confined girl from Canada. Web Site Singh's diaries online 2004-11-01 Singh's diaries of the lives of Kamala and Amala at the Midnapore orphanage are now online in full. All text copyright © Andrew Ward, or the original author for reproduced articles and extracts. No material may be reproduced without the written consent of the copyright holder. Amazon prices subject to change. In association with Amazon.com. You are seeing this site customised for country United States. Zahra and Massoumeh Naderi Acute social deprivation Iranian twins Zahra and Massoumeh Naderi were kept locked away by their father in their house in Iran until neighbours alerted social services, by which time the girls were around 12 years old. Their complete lack of socialisation meant the girls couldn't speak and could barely walk. Instead of talking, the girls communicated using primitive whimpers and whines. They hadn't bathed in years. In an uncanny parallel to the case of Genie, their mother is blind.