Wolf child

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As Wolf children or feral children are called children, the long-isolated at a young age, a time of other people were growing and therefore in their learned behavior of normally socialized different children. Some wolf children are said to have been adopted by animals such as wolves, dogs or bears and lived with them ( Meyer's Large Pocket Lexicon in 24 volumes from 1983, for example, only refers to such "wild" children as wolf children ). However, most of the reports of such cases have been challenged by science.

Scientific background

Illustration by J. Lockwood Kipling , 1895

There are numerous stories and legends about wolf children, but so far science has only studied a few real cases. At least 53 wild children have been described since the middle of the 14th century (apart from the documentation of the Prussian wolf children ). The reports are always second-hand and not from the eyewitnesses themselves. Imaginative interpretations grew around the few facts. The cases described in the historical as well as in some contemporary sources presume a certain gullibility on the part of the reader. With regard to their typology, there is a connection with the changeling bellows that was widespread in the superstition of the Christian Middle Ages . Both times it was a supposed explanation of disabilities with the following characteristics, among others: a certain form of nonsense, lack of language and memory, an empty or restlessly wandering gaze, abnormal movement patterns and animal eating habits.

In the 18th century, the Swedish scientist Carl von Linné coined the term "Homo ferus", the wild man who behaved like an animal, usually walked on all fours, could not speak and was very hairy. When this term was coined, attitudes towards wild people also changed. If, for example, the myth of the founding of Rome with the rearing of Romulus and Remus by a she-wolf wanted to underline the wonderful origins of the heroes, wild children were later regarded as harbingers of doom (for example in a report about a child found near Southampton in 1631 ) and as objects courtly curiosity, they owe their attention since the Enlightenment to a learned audience and a newly emerging public for anthropological and educational issues. That man can only find the outstanding place in the bosom of society that nature intended for him, and that without civilization, he would be one of the weakest and most incomprehensible animals, was, for example, the basic view of the doctor and educator Jean Itard , which he expressed in an initial report of Victor von Aveyron (first sighted in 1797 and later captured). Itard defended his opinion against all objections even after attempts to fully integrate Victor into human society had largely failed.

Linnaeus "Homo ferus"

With the 10th edition of Systema Naturae (1758), Carl von Linné began to include a group in his systematics of man, which he characterized as "tetrapus, mutus, hirsutus" (walk on all fours, cannot speak, are covered in fur) and who differ from other people by their behavior and appearance:

  • Juvenis Ursinus lithuanus (Lithuanian bear child)
  • Juvenis Lupinus hessensis (Hessian Wolf Boy)
  • Juvenis Ovinus hibernus (Irish Sheep Boy)
  • Juvenis Hannoverianus. ( Hanoverian boy )
  • Pueri 2 Pyrenaici (Two Pyrenean Boys)
  • Johannes Leodicensis (Liège Hans)

With the 12th edition of Systema Naturae (1766) three more cases were added:

  • Juvenis Bovinus bambergensis (Bamberg young calf)
  • Puella Transisalana (girl from Kranenburg)
  • Puella Campanica ( Champagne Girl )

Known cases

Surname year Fund age place further development after the discovery annotation
Hessian wolf boy 1344 7 years Hesse juvenis lupinus hessensis
Wetterauer wolf cub 1344 12 years Wetterau
Second Hessian wolf boy 1544 ? Hesse juvenis lupinus hessensis
Lithuanian bear cub 1661 Lithuania juvenis ursinus lithuanus
Irish sheep boy described in 1652 in
Observationes Medicae IV.
by Dr. Nicolaes tulip
? Ireland juvenis ovinus hibernus
Calf boy from Bamberg Described at the end of the 16th century
by Philipp Camerarius (1537–1624)
Bamberg, Germany juvenis bovinus bambergensis
Second Lithuanian bear child 1694 ten years Lithuania juvenis ursinus lithuanus
Third Lithuanian bear child ? 12 years Lithuania juvenis ursinus lithuanus
Girls from Overijssel 1711 ? then the Dutch province of Overijssel puella transisalana
Girls from Kranenburg 1717 19 years Kranenburg
Two Pyrenean boys 1719 ? Pyrenees pueri pyrenaici
Wild Peter of Hameln 1724 13 years Hamelin never learned to speak, never laughed, and showed absolute sexual and financial indifference; was interested in music, could be taught and performed various tasks, was possibly not a real wolf child, but suffered from the genetic Pitt-Hopkins syndrome and had been abandoned by his parents shortly before his capture juvenis hannoverianus
Marie-Angélique Memmie LeBlanc 1731 19 years Châlons-en-Champagne learned to speak and write French puella campanica
Liege Hans ? 21 years Liege
Tomko from Zips 1767 ? Hungary
Bear girl from Krupina 1767 ten years Hont county puella karpfensis
Victor of Aveyron 1797 9 years Aveyron learned to do simple household chores and show human emotions, as well as how to write a few words juvenis averionensis
Johannes Seluner 1828 16 years Toggenburg (Switzerland) Found near a cave in the Alps
Pig girl from Salzburg ? 22 years Salzburg
Husanpur child 1843 ? Husanpur
1st child of Sultanpur 1843 ? Sultanpur
2nd child of Sultanpur 1848 ? Sultanpur
Kamala and Amala 1920 9 years and 18 months Medinipur Amala died soon after her discovery; Kamala learned to walk upright and to speak a few words
Isabelle 1938 6 years Ohio reached the normal level of development of a child of this age at the age of eight and a half
Anna 1938 6 years Pennsylvania At nine years of age, she was at the stage of development of a two-year-old
genius 1970 13 years Los Angeles County still severely disabled
Andrei and Vanya 1967 7 years Czech Republic caught up, attended a technical college and pursued qualified jobs; both are married, have children and are described as having normal development
Oxana Malaya 1991 8 years Novaya Blagoveshchenka , Ukraine
Victoria Barr 1997 9 years Austin , USA Never learned to speak, but learned to communicate in sign language mimicked rats
Ivan Mishukov 1998 6 years Retowa , Russia could be integrated into society raised by dogs
Andrei Tolstyk 2004 7 years Bespalowskoja , Russia raised by dogs
Rochom P'ngieng 2007 27 years Oyadao , Cambodia
Natasha Mikhailova 2009 5 years Chita , Russia assumed dog-like behavior

Literary wolf children

In legend and more modern fiction, many wolf children are described for whom animal rearing turned out to be an advantage. Since the Enlightenment, it is mainly Jean-Jacques Rousseau's concept of the “noble savage” that has been responsible for this idea.

Already in the mythical history of Rome to Romulus and Remus by a wolf ( lupa ) suckled. There is also a similar story in the myth of the lineage of the early Turks called the Asena legend ; a boy is said to have been the last survivor of his tribe and was raised by wolves. Even Wolf Dietrich , protagonist of the eponymous medieval German epic, spent parts of his childhood in the care of wolves. Something similar is reported by the Slovak warriors Waligor and Wyrwidub .

A famous modern literary figure is Mowgli, raised by wolves, from the Jungle Book (1894, 1895) by Rudyard Kipling . Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs from 1912 is still a very popular figure in the literary tradition of the hero who becomes a more capable and better person with wild animals.

Related topics


  • Johann Friedrich Blumenbach : From Homo sapiens ferus Linn. and especially from Hamelchen wild Peter . In: Contributions to natural history. Part 2 . Göttingen 1811, pp. 10-44, especially pp. 32-40, online .
  • PJ Blumenthal : Kaspar Hauser's siblings. In search of the wild man . Deuticke, Vienna and Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-216-30632-1
  • Hansjörg Bruland: Wild Children in the Early Modern Age. Stories from the nature of man . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-515-09154-1
  • Friedrich Koch : The wild child. The story of a failed dressage. Hamburg 1997. ISBN 978-3-434-50410-8
  • David Malouf : The wolf child . Greno, Nördlingen 1987, ISBN 3-89190-804-0
  • Lucien Malson : Les enfants sauvages (German edition: Die wilden Kinder . Translated by Eva Moldenhauer . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1972, ISBN 3-518-06555-6 , last in 12th edition 1999; paperback ISBN 978-3-518- 36555-7 ) - contains the text of two studies by Jean Itard : De l'éducation d'un homme sauvage (1801) and Rapport fait à SE le Ministre de l'Intérieur sur les nombreux développements et l'état actuel du sauvage de l 'Aveyron (1807)
  • Russ Rymer: The Wolf Girl. A modern Kaspar Hauser story. Hoffmann & Campe, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-455-11047-9 (fictional representation)
  • The Wolf Child Discourse . In: Nicolas Pethes: Students of nature: the literary human experiment of the 18th century . Wallstein Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8353-0154-2 , pp. 62-97.
  • Nicole Saathoff: The Hessian Wolf Boy and the Medieval Perception of a "Wild Child" . In: Yearbook for historical educational research . ISSN  0946-3879 , 7th year 2001, pp. 89-108
  • Joseph Amrito Lal Singh: The "Wolf Children" from Midnapore. Missionary's diary . Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg 1964
  • Jane Yolen : The wolf children of Midnapur . Oetinger, Hamburg 1986, ISBN 3-7891-1752-8 (book for young people)

Web links

Wiktionary: Wolfskind  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Wolf Children . In: Lexicon Editor of the Bibliographical Institute; Editor-in-chief: Werner Digel and Gerhard Kwiatkowski (eds.): Meyers Großes Taschenlexikon in 24 volumes . Updated new edition edition. tape 24 , 1981, ISBN 3-411-01944-1 , pp. 128 (360 p., Limited preview in Google Book search).
  2. Nicole Ruchlak: Wolf Children - Speculations about beings between humans and wolves. In: radioWissen , Bayern 2 , January 13, 2009.
  3. Walter Bachmann: The unfortunate legacy of Christianity: The changeling. On the history of curative education. (Giessen documentation series curative and special education, volume 6) Fuldaer Verlagsanstalt, Fulda 1985, pp. 203, 215
  4. ^ C. Linnæus: Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis . Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Holmiæ 1758, p. 20, online .
  5. ^ Bernard Connor: History of Poland . 1698,
  6. Additiones ad lambertum Schafnaburgensem ... In: Johann Pistorius: In quo ad Reginonem, Herm. Contractum, Lamb. Schafnaburgensem, Marianum Scotum, Sigebertum, & Sifridum (quorum quidam è manuscriptis codicibus sunt correcti) sex iam primùm accesserunt, antea nunquam impressi libelli: Catalog authorum, qui in hoc volumine comprehensi sunt, inuenies post praefationem . Francofvrti: Marnius, 1613, p. 264, online .
  7. ^ Nicolaes Tulp : Observationes Medicae . 2nd edition, 1652, p. 312, online .
  8. Kenelm Digby: Two treatises: in the one of which, the nature of bodies; in the other, the nature of mans soule, is looked into: in way of discovery of the immortality of reasonable soules . John Williams, London 1645, pp. 310-311, online .
  9. ^ C. Linné: Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis . Tomus I. Editio duodecima, reformata. Holmiæ 1766, p. 28, online
  10. Philipp Camerarius: Operae Horarum Subcisivarum, Sive Meditationes Historicae . Centuria prima, 1602, p. 343, online .
  11. ^ Wroclaw Collections . Volume 22, p. 437
  12. ^ [Charles-Marie de la Condamine]: Histoire d'une jeune fille sauvage trouvée dans les bois à l'âge de dix ans . Paris 1755, full text
  13. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "The wild children", Suhrkamp paperback
  14. Dr. EC Séguin : Idiocy: And it's treatment by the physiological method ( Memento from May 19, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), transl. the engl. Version from 1907, Vienna, 1912, pp. 18-19.
  15. ^ PJ Blumenthal: Kaspar Hauser's siblings - in search of the wild man , Piper Verlag GmbH, March 2005, ISBN 3-492-24101-8
  16. ^ Spiegel Online: What tormented the "wild Peter of Hameln"
  17. Carl von Linné : Systema naturae , 10th edition of 1758, p. 20
  18. Jarmila Koluchova: Severe deprivation in twins: A case study . Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 13, 1972, pp. 107-114
  19. feralchildren.com: Andrei and Vanya, the Koluchova Twins ( Memento from October 18, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  20. feralchildren.com about Oxana Malaya ( Memento from December 31, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  21. Victoria's Journey - Little lost girl finding her way ( Memento from March 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) - no longer available November 29, 2014.
  22. ^ Newton, Michael: "Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A history of feral children"
  23. a b Abandoned boy said to have been raised by a dog . In: The New Zealand Herald , August 4, 2004. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  24. ^ Doubts about the identity of the "jungle woman" , Spiegel Online, January 22, 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  25. ^ First picture of neglected 'Mowgli' girl, 5, who was raised by dogs. In: Daily Mail , May 29, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2017.