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 now lives in a clinic in Odessa and works with the hospital’s farm animals under the supervision of her carers.
Lobo Wolf Girl, Mexico, 1845/1852: In 1845 a girl was seen running on all fours with a pack of wolves attacking a herd of goats. A year later she was seen with the wolves eating a goat. She was captured but escaped. In 1852, she was seen yet again suckling two wolf cubs, but she ran into the woods. She was never seen again.
For London-based photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten, tales of children abused or deserted by their parents and raised by wild creatures are no longer confined to folklore and storybooks but to tangible records of human history. For Feral Children, the photographer scoured the history books, culling stories of childhoods spent alone, of children who one way or another came into the care of wild beasts. Here, she recounts in pictures the early years of fifteen of young people who indeed were reared by or with animals without the comforts of human contact, lifting them from the pages of textbooks and into a true and pulsating universe all their own.