Can A Child Be Raised Like Tarzan Was?

Maybe you just finished watching the Tarzan cartoon, or perhaps it randomly pops into your mind while you’re onto something else, and now you can’t help but wonder if a child can be raised like Tarzan.


According to history, it can be possible because animals sometimes adopt members of other species. So even though the chances of this are very low, it is still possible.

When an Ape family raises a child, like in Tarzan’s case, he can learn to swing and climb trees, but he won’t do it as Tarzan did in the cartoon (the extent of Tarzan’s abilities are farfetched, in my opinion). Additionally, the baby won’t learn to speak English or stand up quickly as Tarzan did in the movie and show.

That said, let’s examine some tales of other kids that were brought up by animals and see if there is anything we can learn from them.

Children Brought Up By Animals

Can A Child Be Raised Like Tarzan Was
Source: iStockphoto

For years, there have been folklore, myths, and media depicting children reared by animals. For example, there have been stories of children like Tarzan or Mowgli being raised by animals in the forest while Romulus and Remus drank wolf milk as babies.

There have also been stories of people in the Amazon transforming into jaguars and a story of a woman who got married to a brown bear in the Arctic.

The idea that a rock-solid barrier separates people from animals appears to have its roots in the monotheistic tradition and, historically, has been among the world’s minority beliefs.

However, in recent years there has been a belief that humans are quite different from other animals. A few evolutionary biologists argue this fact, but we still go ahead to live and believe that we are above all other life on earth.

The statement or thought that it is possible for a child to be brought up by animals of different species without any human care is quite challenging to believe. 

Even though this may seem fictional and more like a myth, it is still possible. When a child is left without the care or support of a human at a young age, they will grow up not knowing any language to speak or social norms.

Children who grew up this way can be feral or wild, often called “isolates.” But, according to research, few children grew up this way in the past.

An example of children that grew up this way includes Marina Chapman.

Marina Chapman’s relatively typical childhood and adult life sets her apart from other “feral” kids. Additionally, in many fictionalized versions of the tale, Marina made friends with a group of Capuchin monkeys.

According to her, she was left in the Columbian jungle at the age of four. Throughout her stay there, she was able to survive by imitating monkeys and learning from their behaviors. Being the only human, she stayed there for about five years before hunters discovered her.

When they found her, she didn’t know any human language. She was then sold into prostitution. Luckily, she escaped and began to make a living by picking pockets while trying to avoid being seen by the police by hiding in trees. Unfortunately, she was later caught by the mafia again and was taken as a slave.

Eventually, she was rescued from the mafia. She got married and later relocated to England with her husband. It is quite a hard-to-believe story, and many people are skeptical about it. Even though she later wrote a book about it, people still find it difficult to believe the story.

The story of John Ssebunya. When John was about two to three years old, his father killed his mother right before his eyes. He then fled into the Ugandan wilderness after witnessing this. Many find it easier to believe this story than that of Marina. John shared his story in a translation interview with The Guardian.

John described how he became friends with velvet monkeys, and they started to offer him tubers and nuts to eat. While living in a region ripped apart by civil conflict, John had no human contact and discovered how to survive by watching and imitating the monkeys.

John spent years in the bush before being discovered by Millie, who initially mistook him for an injured monkey.

Scientists that put John through a test with some monkeys believe his interactions with the animals are believable and claim that he has a monkey-like behavior, or at the very least, as a human familiar with monkey behavior.

John was adopted and currently resides in England. Although he was different from other kids in some ways, he appeared to adjust well when interviewed in 1999.

A well-known example of someone who was brought up by wolves is Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja. Marcos’ father sold him as a slave to a guy to take care of the man’s goat herd when he was a little boy.

Afterward, Marcos was taken to a tiny cave where a goat herder lived and kept an eye on his herd. After the goat herder who taught him how to capture rabbits passed away, Marcos withdrew into the Sierra Morena highlands in northern Spain, where he caught rabbits to feed on. Marcos observed other creatures to determine what was not good to eat.

The little boy spent a rainy night in a cave, sharing a bed with wolf pups. Marcos claims that although his first meeting with an adult wolf was dangerous, he was able to make the animal, and sometimes the animal would give him food to eat.

Eventually, cops located Marcos as a teenager and took him into a civilized community. However, Marcos seems to have difficulty associating with other people. This difficulty continued even when he was 70 years old.

Marcos has gained some notoriety both in Spain & abroad thanks to a dramatized movie and a documentary. One of the key themes of Marcos Rodrguez Pantoja’s story and those of others raised by animals is human betrayal and an odd kind of acceptance on par with other animals.

There are still many more instances of kids raised by or among other animals without human contact. Among them is a Oxana Malaya. For example, she turned to the dogs in a kennel outside her house for solace and company when her alcoholic parents ignored her.

Oxana lived among dogs as her primary companions for about five years after being repeatedly neglected as a little child before she was found. Malaya mastered the ability to growl, bark, and generally behave like a dog.

This made her to be mentally younger than her actual age. She is currently in her 30s and resides in a facility for disabled people. There are instances of children being reared by domestic dogs in places like Chile, Siberia, and Romania.

There are stories of children brought up by sheep, goats, cattle, bears, and even ostriches in the Sahara. Another instance includes a little boy living in darkness in California without any contact with people.

In the late 1700s, a young boy named “Victor” was discovered living in the wild, scavenging and hunting anything he could find in France. He was eventually turned over to academics for study and education.

Researchers concur that the age at which children reared in seclusion from other people would reintegrate into society will depend on how effectively. For example, it would be impossible for a child to learn a language if he didn’t learn it to some extent by age five.

In situations where people eventually grew up to find employment, spouses, or friends of any kind, they must have started learning the language before age 5. Victor never learned a language in its entirety or became totally assimilated.

Feral children were occasionally viewed as little more than freak show attractions. Formerly wild children who have assimilated into society frequently discuss the brutality of kids and other people toward them.

Money is unfathomable, and human civilization seems perplexing. But, unfortunately, taking advantage of some of these once-feral children is easy.

The question of what it means to be human arises when a child is abandoned and left to survive through a deep relationship with other animals.

Some philosophers and psychologists debate that the genetics of humans are the most significant factor, but how is this possible if five years without any human contact may determine how we will spend our entire lifetime?

What it means to be an animal and how we are, specifically humans and animals, are other questions that have been presented.

Although cases of humans raised separately from other members of their species are extremely rare, it appears that these individuals are not particularly unique.

If left to our own devices at some point in our life, every one of us has the potential to lose our unique veneer of humanity and embrace alternative ways of being intelligent animals.

According to others, several of these kids have severe learning difficulties and were left alone for brief periods. What about the youngsters who developed into proper adults? Do they represent fakes, or do they provide insight into the nature of our reality?


Can A Child Be Raised Like Tarzan Was
Source: iStockphoto

There are instances where apes have protected human children who have fallen into their surroundings, such as the 5-year-old boy shielded by a silverback and the 3-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure and even kindly withdrew for human rescue teams to enter the pit and bring the child out. Although these highly intelligent animals exhibit empathy, it is unsurprising, given how similar human feelings are to theirs.

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