A group of men was working in a jungle in Uttar Pradesh in the north of India in early 2017 when they stumbled upon something startling. The woodcutters were concentrating on their work when they discovered something that would make headlines across the world. While traipsing across the Katarniaghat forest, they encountered a family of monkeys. While that’s not strange, the monkey’s companion was quite unusual.
A Real-Life Mowgli
It appeared that a little girl was living with the monkeys. Who wouldn’t be shocked by such a thing? According to The Independent, the men claimed she was naked and “very comfortable in the company of monkeys.”
It seemed as though the woodcutters had found a real-life Mowgli, the fictional character from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book series. The character, just like the little girl, is a naked feral child from an area in India. He first appeared in Kipling’s short story In The Rukh published in 1893. Mowgli became one of the most beloved characters in Kipling’s series. In the book, Mowgli is reared by a pack of wolves. Read on to find out what happened to this little girl.
The men decided they wanted to save the girl. However, their attempts at rescuing the child were thwarted. The monkeys did what they could to protect their pack.
Police got involved and attempted to rescue the girl, who appeared to be between the ages of 10 and 12. They faced a bit of resistance from the monkeys. It seemed as though the young girl had grown close to her adopted family because the primates did what they could to keep her safe. According to a local police officer, “When they tried to rescue the girl, they were chased away by the monkeys.”
Monkeys Give Chase
The New Indian Press reported that one monkey reportedly attacked an officer as the girl made screeching noises. When the police finally got a hold of the child and put her in a patrol car, the monkeys chased after the vehicle.
According to the New Indian Express, it wasn’t a group of woodcutters but a police party from the Motinagar range in Bahariach who found her. Sub-inspector Suresh Yadav said of the sighting: “We spotted her playing among apes. As we tried to go near the girl, the monkeys surrounded her and some of them pounced on us.”
At that point, it was unclear how long the little girl had been living with the primates. What was clear, however, was that she looked like she was in very bad health. She was very thin and very dirty and wasn’t wearing any clothing.
The police escorted the little girl to Bahraich District Hospital so she could receive medical attention. Doctors at the facility were finally able to examine the child and learned quite quickly that she was unable to speak. Instead of talking to the hospital staff, the girl screamed at the people who tried to get near her.
This behavior isn’t unlike something a monkey would do in a stressful and scary situation. And It wasn’t the only similarity that the hospital workers noticed between the child and the group of monkeys that she appeared to have spent some considerable time with.
The child from the jungle who could not talk didn’t appear to understand any languages either. Dr. D.K. Singh, chief medical superintendent of Bahraich District Hospital, said the girl’s behavior made it very challenging for the staff to treat her. “She behaves like an ape and screams loudly if doctors try to reach out to her,” he said. He then added, “The way she moved, even her eating habits, were like that of an animal.”
Unusual Way of Moving Around
The girl was unable to walk like a normal, healthy person on two feet. Instead, she got around by moving on her elbows and knees.
It looked like the child hadn’t eaten for several days, but the young girl had a bizarre way of consuming food when it was finally offered to her. When staff at the hospital attempted to feed the girl, she threw the food onto the floor before eating it. And unlike most children her age, she didn’t always use her hands to feed herself.
Eating off the Floor
Instead, she sometimes opted to eat the food directly off of the floor with her mouth. It was a very barbaric way of eating. “The way she moved, even her eating habits were like that of an animal,” D.K. Singh explained.
One of the challenges the doctors faced was trying to teach the young girl how to live and behave like a human instead of a primate. It was a very difficult task because she didn’t like interacting with other humans. “She behaves like an ape and screams loudly if doctors try to reach out to her,” Singh told the New Indian Express.
More Ape-Like Behavior
In addition, another doctor explained that treating the girl was very hard because she was unable to understand what they were saying and doing. The language barrier was a huge obstacle. And she kept making ape-like noises and facial expressions.
The doctors were eventually able to test the child for several conditions to determine her mental and physical health. In the process, they discovered that she was both mentally and physically disabled. As a result of the tests, many wondered if the young girl had been abandoned by her parents after they realized she was disabled. Perhaps her disabilities contributed to her bizarre behavior.
Fortunately, after the child was treated for some time, she began walking normally on two feet and eating with her hands. “She is still not able to speak, but understands whatever you tell her and even smiles,” Singh explained.
While some believed her family may have abandoned the girl because of her poor health and an inability to care for her, other officials believed the child had been living in the forest since the day she was born. However, the theories were just that. Police reviewed missing children reports in order to identify her.
Search for Her Family
They also placed advertisements in the media and reached out to the press in order to determine her identify and find her parents. Officials had decided that the young girl would be sent to a home for juveniles until she was claimed. Then in April 2017, someone came forward.
It seemed that the young girl would end up in a group home, but then a couple went public and said that she was their daughter. Ramzan and Nazma Shah, purported to be her parents, explained that they had lost their daughter Aliza at a market a year previously. They claimed to have reported her disappearance to the police when it occurred.
Kidnapped or Dead
However, they said the police were not only unhelpful but also demanded money from them. The father was so distressed that he made missing posters to help find his daughter. Nothing worked. The couple thought their child had either been kidnapped or had died.
But some officials don’t believe that she had been living in the northern Indian jungle for a very long time. The district chief forestry officer said, “I think the family members of this girl had been aware that she is not able to speak, and they may have abandoned her near the forest road. If she was living with monkeys it would have been for a few days only, not for a long time.”
Doubt about Her Disappearance
The girl was initially nicknamed Durga after the Hindu goddess of destruction. Durga is a warrior goddess — an apt name for a child who faces such struggles. Still, her alleged father insisted she was his offspring.
“She’s my daughter,” Ramzan said. “She went missing last year and we did everything to find her. The joy of knowing she’s alive cannot be expressed in words. I feel so blessed to know we could get her back.” Ramzan added, “She’s not mentally stable. We got busy buying some medicines for a few seconds and she suddenly vanished. We looked for her everywhere but couldn’t find her.”
The girl alleged to be Aliza has been moved to a special unit for disabled children. When a visitor who claimed to be related to the child visited, “she did not respond to seeing him,” according to a hospital spokesman.
Her father, who has seven children, said: “We abandoned all hope. We eventually believed she was dead or picked up by someone, or traffickers. We were devastated. My wife did not eat or sleep for several weeks but eventually we had to carry on with our lives.”
An Emotional Reunion
Aliza’s father says his daughter is about 10 years old and was stunned that she was able to survive by herself in the forest for so long. The reunion with his child was very emotional. He explained: “When I saw her I had tears in my eyes. She kept staring at me. She stared for two hours.”
The president and founder of the special charity hospital where Aliza is staying, Dr. Suresh Singh Dhapola, explained: “The girl has started showing signs of improvement but since she doesn’t communicate, it is difficult to understand her. The initial two days were difficult and she drank and ate on the floor, but she’s improving. Unfortunately, she was not given proper care earlier.”
He added, “Her tests show she has very low hemoglobin, low blood pressure and she’s suffering with a fever. She even has worms in her stomach and she’s currently on antibiotics for them.” Fortunately, she has been making progress and enjoys eating chicken.
The girl purported to be Aliza will stay in the special home until a DNA test proves that Ramzan and Nazma Shah are her parents. Dr. Dhapola commented, “Until then, she will stay with us and we will continue to treat her for her condition.”
DNA Test Required
The Shas are doing whatever they can to save money in order to prove that the little girl found living with monkeys is their daughter. Ramzan noted: “We’re trying to get the formalities done to get her back. The doctors have said we have to pay for a DNA test so we’re saving money to get those tests done so that we can bring her back.”
In the meantime, the family is not giving up hope on bringing their daughter home. Ramzan, who earns less than $3 a day as a daily wage laborer, told the Daily Mail: “It would be the most amazing day to get her back. I have no idea how she made it to the jungle. I wonder what she’s been through. “
A Sisterly Bond
“She used to always climb trees and buildings and jump off but how did she cope in the forest for so long? She shared a lovely bond with her siblings and they want to play with her again. Her mom is eagerly waiting to get her back.”
It isn’t the first time that a feral child has been found living among monkeys. A British woman named Marina Chapman claimed she lived in the Colombian jungle for about five years with a group of primates. Chapman said she learned to take care of herself and ate berries, roots, and bananas that were dropped by the monkeys in order to survive.
A Similar Tale
Chapman claimed that she slept in holes and got around by walking on all fours, just like Aliza. She also said she completely lost her language skills. Not everyone believes that Chapman has told the truth about her experience.
In 2002, a disabled Nigerian boy, nicknamed Bello, lived for 18 months with a group of chimpanzees. Hunters found him living with primates in the Falgore forest. The child, who was believed to be around age 2 when he was taken in, was mentally and physically disabled. Officials believed he had been abandoned because of his disabilities.
Living with Chimps
A welfare officer explained, “Based on the traits he exhibits, we estimate that he would have been adopted when he was no more than six months old and nursed by a nursing chimp.” Bello exhibited many chimpanzee-like behaviors, such as leaping, clapping his hands over his head repeatedly, cupping his hands and making chimp noises.
News about the boy’s unusual story didn’t reach the media until 2002. Six years later Bello was much calmer, but he would still exhibit monkey-like qualities. He leaped around the room like a chimp, mimicked their noises, and continued to cup his hands. He died in 2005.
The Most Famous Feral Child
One of the most famous stories of a feral child is about a boy named Victor. His story was featured in the film “L’Enfant Sauvage.” It’s unclear what his origins were, but many think Victor lived his entire childhood naked and alone in the woods. The boy was first spotted in 1797. He was sighted several more times before coming out into the open in Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance, France, in 1800.
Once he emerged, philosophers and scientists jumped at the opportunity to study him and use him for research regarding language and human behavior. However, he was so cognitively impaired that they made little progress.