“I saw a hand cover my mouth, a black hand in a white hanky. Then I realized there were two people taking me away.” this had been the first thing that Marina Chapman could remember. After that everything went pitch black.
As she gained consciousness, she had been in the depths of the Amazon forest, where she lived for years. She was raised by monkeys as if she had been one of their young until she finally after years made her return to the human world. If she knew anything it had been that she was different from other people, something set her apart.
This story is about Marina Chapman, the name she gave herself after rejoining society. But she has no idea what her birth name had been, who her parents were, or where she came from. She also has no recollection of what happened prior to her waking up in the forest. The cataclysmic event that changed her life forever.
One of the first things she remembered about humans was when she had been ten years old. But before that, she had been among her monkey family. But that’s not all there is to the story.
Among The Apes
Although she made her way back into civilization after escaping the forest, she never lost her wild spirit and still took part in crazy adventures and thrill-seeking events. But she would never really have a normal life after that.
But it has been no walk in the park. She has recently published a book about her life among the apes called “The Girl With No Name”, where she writes about the difficulties she faced in and out of the woods.
In The Middle Of Nowhere
Marina has no idea where she spent her life before she woke up in the forest. She had only been 4 at the time, so it is understandable. Despite her young age, she still remembers the traumatic event that changed the course of her life.
She remembers strange hands grabbing her and suddenly waking up somewhere in a forest tied up in the back of a truck. She can clearly remember the fear she felt as the men pushed her out of the truck.
Berries And Caves
Shockingly they didn’t do anything to her, they just left her there by herself. She remembers hoping that they would come back to fetch her. Of course, they never did.
She wandered around looking for help for days on end. Hoping that someone would find her, but no one did. There are still so many parts of the Amazonian forest untouched by humans. The chances of someone finding her in the dense, deep forest had been very slim. She yelled but no one responded. She recalls living off of berries and taking shelter in caves and tiny holes previously dug by animals. But something happened that she could not have expected.
She came across the shelter of a group of capuchins. She doesn’t know why but as soon as she saw them she felt relieved. Perhaps it had been their human-like features.
And that’s where she decided to settle. She might be terrified and hungry but she wouldn’t be alone. But she did not think at all about the risks of doing such a thing, she had only been four years old.
Capuchins can be very territorial. They might have seen her as a potential threat and attacked, but for some odd reason, they didn’t. They had their own little community that functioned like a well-oiled machine because they worked together and trust each other. They were deeply connected to one another and that family bond is something that she had been longing for.
In the beginning, they didn’t pay her any mind. She watched them getting food, grooming each other, and playing together. She was slowly growing envious. It had taken weeks for her to finally gain their trust and for them to make contact with her.
After thinking that she could eat tamarind she got horrible food poisoning. She couldn’t do anything for the entire day and to make matters even more uncomfortable, the monkeys had been staring at her, they were noticing her weakened condition.
AN older monkey suddenly started approaching her. He then escorted her to a lake after taking her hand. She had no other choice but to follow the capuchin, she was desperate. The monkey made her drink the muddy water no matter how much she protested.
Playing And Learning
She vomited and instantaneously made a full recovery. The monkey had saved her life. She decided to call him “Grandpa”. And after that, they slowly started integrating her into the group.
She became one of them, playing with the younger ones and learning basic skills from the older ones. They taught her how to climb, get to the better fruits at the top and groom herself. But that had only been the tip of the iceberg.
Part Of The Group
She slowly began giving her a small piece of food after a while, and shockingly also started grooming her. She had quickly become a part of this family and she had been one of them.
She would sit with them in the trees eating fruit and every time the monkeys stayed out longer than she anticipated she felt her nerves kicking in. She had made a new home for herself with a new family.
“They were just tolerating at first. One day one of the younger ones landed on my shoulders, and if you’ve never been hugged in your life, and this animal climbs over your shoulders and puts their hands on your face, I tell you it’s the nicest touch,” Marina recalls.
And after some time, she even started being able to communicate with the family of monkeys, which had its own language of sorts consisting of screams and shrieks. This is how she recounts it:
“Like when they whistle, it’s a food thing. The feeling that there is food somewhere, so we all get ready to follow one monkey. Then there is a ‘Tttttt’ when they are grooming each other. And a warning when they feel in danger.”
As this was the main form of communication Marina used for years, she ended up forgetting all notions of human language she had by the time of her kidnapping. But years later, her luck took a drastic turn.
She Still Felt Human
Marina says she felt happy in the company of monkeys. But still, she felt like she didn’t fully belong there. She knew she was different. She had sometimes seen some hunters wandering around the jungle, but she was scared.
Until one day, she decided to reach out to one group of hunters who had ventured into the area. She went to them, walking on all fours and grunting. They quickly took her with them. Little did Marina know that her misfortunes were far from over.
The hunters didn’t have any intentions of rescuing Marina; instead, they sold her as a dancer for a bar in Cúcuta. Then, she was transferred as a maid for a local mob family.
She managed to escape. After that, she spent years wandering around the streets until a neighbor adopted her and moved with her to Yorkshire, England. Now, Marina could start leading a normal life in a loving household for the first time in many years. But that wasn’t the end of her story.
Many Question Her Story
Recently, Marina has shared her whole life story, from the details of her life among the family of monkeys to her adventures in the streets of Cúcuta or the process of getting used to living among humans again, in her recently published book.
However, some people doubt that certain parts of her story are true or accurate. “We’re not trying to prove anything,” says her daughter Vanessa. “We’re just telling our family story, and it doesn’t matter what people think, really.” But that isn’t all.
This isn’t the only case of this type. Throughout history, there have been multiple cases of so-called “feral children”: kids who live isolated from human society from a young age, often being raised by animals.
There are true stories of kids raised by apes, dogs, and even wolves. However, these kinds of stories can lead to different outcomes for those involved.
The time ranging from a child’s birth to the moment they turn seven years old is the most critical in the development of their personality and brain faculties.
Essentially, kids learn all the basics about language, socializing, and how to interact with their environment between those ages. But what would happen if a kid spent most or even all of their childhood living among animals?
A kid who lives amongst animals during those critical years can sometimes have difficulty integrating into human society after being rescued. The behaviors they learned during their time with animals will already be too deeply ingrained in their minds.
These are the types of stories about feral children that can often turn out so much worse than Marina’s. However, others turn out well in an almost miraculous way. Let’s see one of them:
Ivan Mishukov was just four years old when he left his home and began living on the streets of Moscow. They were dark years for the Russian people. There was an unprecedented economic crisis, and a large proportion of the population lived in poverty.
Ivan’s home was no exception. However, his situation was particularly bad. His childhood hadn’t been easy at all.
His dad had left him and his mom before Ivan was born. Since then, his mother, who lived with him in a tiny flat in one of Moscow’s most depressed neighborhoods, had had different boyfriends. None of them stayed for too long.
However, the last one was the worst of them all. He was the one who made Ivan leave his mother’s house to never come back again.
Bad Situation At Home
The man was a raging alcoholic and infected Ivan’s mom with his vice. Things got to a point where they were barely taking care of Ivan, who, at four years of age, came in and out of the house and roamed the streets as he pleased.
Until one day, the kid made a decision that for the better or the worse, would change his life forever.
One morning, he got up, walked out the door, went down his block’s stairs, started walking on the street, and never came back. That would be the last time he’d see his mother.
He didn’t know it yet, but he was about to begin an adventure that would last for years and shape his personality forever.
He walked for the whole day. Eventually, he got tired and slept between some cardboard boxes he found in a corner. The next day, he ate some bread some bakery had thrown away the evening before.
He kept wandering around the following day. He got himself a raggedy backpack and a rug someone had thrown away. That was his life for the next few days until something happened.
One day, Ivan ran into a pack of stray dogs. He didn’t know it yet, but they were about to become his new family.
From the first moment, one of the dogs threw a glance in Ivan’s direction. Then, he barked at him. It wasn’t a hostile bark, but more like a greeting. Then, something happened that was the beginning of Ivan’s new life.
Ivan had some spare food he had retrieved from a trash can that same day. He took some in hand and showed it to the dogs. He had been alone for so long that he would appreciate any kind of company, even if it wasn’t human.
The dog that barked at him was the first to come close. He ate the food Ivan was offering, and soon the rest of the pack followed.
Ivan’s New Family
The dogs came close to Ivan and never left his side after that. From then on, everywhere Ivan went, he was in the company of the pack of dogs.
Ivan kept taking or retrieving food from anywhere he could and then shared it with the dogs. Eventually, he became their leader; he told them where to go, he divided them when they fought each other, and so on.
This situation carried on for two years. Two years during which Ivan barely spoke a word of human language or interacted with another person. He barked and walked on all fours.
Ivan was perfectly satisfied with his situation, especially when he remembered how life used to be with his mother and her boyfriend. For the first time in a very long time, he felt love. He felt safe, warm, and happy… until one day.
Word got around Moscow about the feral kid who ran with a pack of dogs and sometimes stole food from butchers and restaurants. Eventually, the police set up a plan to catch him.
They attracted Ivan’s dogs with meat and then caught the kid like an animal. Ivan cried and cried as they took them away from his friends. From that day, he started living among humans again.
“I loved the dogs and they loved me,” were the first words Ivan said to the agents who caught him. He was heartbroken to be separated from his furry friends.
But he couldn’t continue living like that. Ivan was taken to an adoption center. In a matter of months, he was adopted by a foster family who was moved by his story. He grew up and enlisted in the Russian Navy.
“I understand that if it wasn’t for those dogs I wouldn’t have survived in the street,” Ivan says. He remembers those days fondly, despite all the struggles, but he’s happy about returning to society.
“I am also grateful to policemen who took me from the pack, and of course to my foster mum who raised me.”
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental.