March 8, 2014: Being Born on the Wild Side

Children Who Are Born and/or Raised By Wild Animals

I know most of you have heard the story about Romulus and Remus. These were the twins who are said to have founded Rome. The story says that an evil king threw them into a river as babies, but a female wolf rescued them and raised them, until a shepherd found them. There are many other stories that depict human children being raised by wild animals, but it is little known that there are many verifiable accounts of this actually happening.

The idea of wild animals raising human children has been found in some popular literature and even in our modern movies. Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli; Edgar Rice Burrough’s  Tarzan, and even Walt Disney’s famous movie, The Second Jungle Book are specific examples. The lead wolf in this movie was Bandit, a high-content wolf dog purchased from the U.S. Wolf Refuge by Walt Disney’s animal training company.

A True Success Story

In Belgium during World War II, a 7-year-old girl ran away from her parents, and lived in the woods for almost 4 years with a pack of wild wolves. They would steal food from local farmhouses, and eat wild berries. She slept with them for warmth, and helped rear the pups. The wolves shared the food they would bring back from a hunt with her. She was truly a pack member. She survived the war and later returned to human civilization. She got married, and came to the United States. She has written an account of her life with the wolves called Misha – A Memoir of the Holocaust Years. The following is a quote from her book:

“The only time I ever slept deeply was when I was with the wolves…I have no idea how many months I spent with them but I wanted it to last forever – it was far better than returning to the world of my own kind. Today, though most memories of my long journey are etched in tones of gray, the time spent with the wolves…is drenched in color. Those were the most beautiful days I have ever experienced.”

Just this year, a stray female dog in Kenya found an abandoned baby girl in a trash dump. Witnesses watched the dog take the infant to her den where she had a litter of her own. She placed the baby with her pups and nurtured her as if she were on of her own.

In 2004, a pride of lions in Ethiopia took into their pride a 12-year-old girl who had been kidnapped, beaten, and raped. The pride chased off her kidnappers, and surrounded and protected her until she was rescued. The lions didn’t challenge her rescuers, and simply amiably wandered away. They were able to sense the compassion of her rescuers, and didn’t threaten them.

In 2004, a 6 year-old boy was found in Siberia. The boy was abandoned by his parents at 3 months old, and was raised by the family dog for 6 ½ years. He walked on all fours, and would try to bite when frightened.

In 2001, an infant girl who had been missing for quite some time was found in a bear’s den in Iraq. The infant was safe and unharmed.

In 1998 in Moscow, the world’s leading city for homeless animals (over 30,000), a 4-year-old boy was raised by a pack of wild dogs for almost 2 years. His dysfunctional parents abandoned him, and he was able to survive with the assistance and protection of his canine family. They were able to find food together, sharing each morsel with each other. They huddled together in Moscow’s subways at night for warmth.

In 1985, a young Ugandan boy was found as part of a colony of vervet monkeys. The boy had run away from his family after watching his father murder his mother.

In 1971 in Yugoslavia, a 5 year-old girl wandered into the woods near her home and became lost. The area was searched extensively by many of the family and neighbors for three days. The search was abandoned, but a neighbor continued on and finally located her. She had spent all this time with a female bear and her cubs. She says she shared the cookies she had in her pocket with the cubs, the mother bear licked her face, and they cuddled all together at night for warmth

In the mid to late 1800’s, 14 children were raised by a pack of wolves in India. Two of these children gained quite a bit of notoriety. Kamala was 8 years old and Amala was 2 years old when they were “rescued” in 1920. They walked on all fours and ate carrion. Amala died within a year of her capture. Kamala died 9 years after her capture. Though significant efforts were made to teach them, they never learned to speak. Because of the duration that this group spent in the wild, the heritage of these two was the subject of much debate.

During the period often referred to as the Age of Enlightenment, a 12-year-old boy was known to have been wandering the forests in southern France. After finally being captured, it was found that he couldn’t speak, but made many canine-like sounds and behaved very much like a wild wolf. He was institutionalized under the care of a doctor who strived to retrain him to human behavior. The boy never learned to speak, and never really accepted human behavior. This was a time when science was struggling to determine what differentiated humans from animals.

Virtually all of the incidents where humans are taken in or protected by wild animals involve wolves, bears, or lions. These are the very animals that our fairy-tales teach our children to fear. Also, the events that cause human children to be taken in by wild animals reflect the despicable behavior us humans are capable of. Despite all the compassion and devotion humans put forth in providing a humane life for the millions of companion animals, we also have ability to be ruthless, vicious, and evil. We often think that our caring nature is unique to our species, but the multitude of incidences such as these show that virtually all animals can be just as compassionate.

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During the days leading up to and during Earth Day, Bill Chamberlain of the U.S. Wolf Refuge traveled around Arizona (the location of the Mexican wolf reintroduction program – the most highly endangered wolf in the world) sharing his educational program entitled Wolves In America. The program covers where wolves came from, the history of wolves in America, where and how they live, the recovery/reintroduction programs, and  the issues concerning wolf-dogs. These presentations were attended by people from all walks of life and from all sides of the wolf controversy. His presentation style made everyone quite comfortable and the information presented was objective and factual. Future speaking tours are now being arranged. Locations for these presentations are northern and central California and the Yellowstone area. The dates, times and locations of these presentations will be published as they become finalized.

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March 1. 2012; How Do Wolves Survive in Long, Harsh, Arctic Winters?

Wolves, polar bears. arctic hares and many other animals of the arctic must endure long, dark, cold stormy winters than can reach temperatures of  -170°.  Does anyone know what there is about their anatomy that enables them to survive such conditions? We know they have thick coats and insulating fat layers that keeps the bulk of the bodies insulated from these frigid temperatures, but they also must breathe this super cold air into their lungs. Their internal body temperature must be able to warm this air to the point where it does not lower their natural body temperature. Wolves normal body temperature is 100.4-102.2 deg F.

I am anxious to know how they can maintain that body temperature in environments that are so extreme! Please respond with any information on this subject to

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February 14, 2012: Welcome to the NEW U.S. Wolf Refuge Blog

This blog is intended to give everyone the opportunity to share their knowledge and feelings about one of the most remarkable and admirable animals in nature.

All postings must be relevant to wolves in the wild in North America. We want to hear about wolf behavior, biology, anatomy, instincts, sociology, evolution, politics, recovery programs and anything else pertaining to their existence.

Sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter. The e-newsletter deals only with the activities of the United States Wolf Refuge and the animals that reside there. You are encouraged to visit our website and learn more about who we are, what we do, and how you can help support and get involved with the U.S. Wolf Refuge.

We have been dealing with wolves on a daily basis for 27 years and have dealt with many of the most credible and renown wolf biologists and researchers. In that time we have learned that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation as well as unanswered questions. This blog is intended to eliminate much of these misconceptions and to hopefully find and share answers.
Man and wolves have had one of the longest relationships of any two species on earth – at times extremely harmonious, other times quite tumultuous. We are well aware that the feelings most people have about wolves are very emotionally charged and often controversial. All postings will be screened, and we reserve the right to not post any we find inappropriate. We will diligently strive for objectivity.

Be curious – be objective – be courteous

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