In a real-life "Jungle Book" situation, a 5-year-old Russian girl has been rescued from an un-heated Siberian flat, where she has lived her entire life in the company of feral cats and dogs without ever really adopting a vocabulary, police told the Ria-Novosti news agency. According to the Telegraph, the girl, known as 'Natasha', lived in the Siberian town of Chita with egregiously neglectful parents and grandparents who essentially raised her as a pet. From Telegraph:
Like the other pets, she lapped at her food from a bowl on the floor and had never learned how to use cutlery.
Welfare officers, who were led to the flat by concerned neighbours, have placed Natasha in an orphanage. Although malnourished and small for her age, she appeared to be relatively healthy considering her ordeal, a police spokesman was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
However, Natasha's father was not home when the police arrived and his whereabouts are unknown. Nevertheless, police are filing criminal charges against the family, according to AFP.
President Medvedev spoke out against child abuse earlier this year, citing 760,000 children who live in "socially hazardous conditions", AFP reports.
The website FeralChildren.com has additional information on the phenomenon whereby children raised in the company of wild animals adopt their mannerisms. It also provides a short list of feral child hoaxes over the past century, as such incidents are usually the stuff of folklore. Natasha's story, corroborated by a number of news sources, appears to be the real thing.