WHEN seven-year-old Oxana was discovered living in a dog kennel, authorities were horrified by the appalling conditions her alcoholic parents had left her to live in.
But when the young girl crawled out of the pen on all fours and could only speak through barks it was like nothing they’d ever seen before.
At the age of three, in Kherson, Oekraïne, Oxana Malaya had been left outside in the cold by her abusive mother and father.
In a desperate bid to keep warm, she crawled into a kennel with their pet dog Naida – a pen that she would live in for the next five years.
Naida and the other neighbourhood strays treated Oxana as their own – sharing their food with her and even guarding her against the police officers who discovered her.
By the time she was rescued, she had already lost the ability to speak, was running around on all fours and panting and barked like a dog.
She ate off the floor, lacked basic human skills and even cleaned herself in the same way as her canine friends.
The abuse case offered experts the unique opportunity to study Oxana as part of the nature-nurture debate – as she had been considered a normal and healthy child before being abandoned.
Despite being taken into a foster home and learning how to walk and hold a conversation she still held on to some of her canine behaviours.
She hid items away much like a dog and doctors said it would be unlikely that she would ever be fully rehabilitated.
Even in her adult years, experts determined she had the mental capacity of a six-year-old.
Her case was compared to that of Genie Wiley, a 13-year-old girl who had been locked away from the outside most of her life by her abusive parents.
Although Genie was not raised by animals, she suffered the same social deprivation as Oxana and could not talk or walk.
She was locked in her bedroom from the age of two and tied up in a handmade straight jacket and strapped to a chair because her father believed she was disabled.
At night she was locked inside her crib and was only fed a liquid diet – leaving her severely malnourished.
After she was rescued in 1970 it gave experts the chance to study critical learning periods for children as they attempted to teach Genie new language skills.
PART OF THE PACK
Op November 4 1983, a young girl was born into a poverty-stricken family in the village of Nova Blagovishchenka, Oekraïne.
Doctors say the child was ‘normal’ at birth despite having alcoholic parents but was uncared for throughout her early years and mostly forgotten about, volgens berigte.
One night, when she was just three years old, she ventured outside before being locked out by her cruel parents.
The young girl cuddled up to their pet dog Naida for warmth before slowly being accepted into the pack with other neighbourhood dogs.
It’s believed she shared whatever foods the dogs were given and possibly ventured into the house for scraps before being kicked out by her cruel father.
She learnt every part of their canine behaviour, barking, growling and even licking her skin clean.
Oxana speaking as part of a 60 Minute documentary, gesê: “Mum had too many kids, we didn’t have enough beds. So I crawled to the dog and started living with her.
“I would talk to them they would bark and I would repeat it. That was our way of communication.”
The director of the institute where Oxana was taken told 60 Minute: “She was more like a little dog than a human child.
“She used to show her tongue when she saw water and she used to eat with her tongue and not her hands.”
Shocking video footage also showed a young Oxana running on all fours, barking and drinking water from a tap in the same way a dog would.
Visitors rarely came to see the family, meaning Oxana’s bizarre went unnoticed for five years.
It was only when Oxana barked at a neighbour that it raised suspicion and the woman rang Ukrainian authorities.
They arrived at the home to find a horrific scene – a young girl walking on all fours and being protected by a pack of dogs.
The animals were so protective of young Oxana that they would not allow police to get close and had to be coaxed away with food.
She did not understand the officers and was only able to communicate through barks and growls – she was a completely feral child.
She would also hide items given to her and hide them – much like a dog with a bone and would attack and bite when scared, volgens berigte.
Oxana was taken to a children’s home where she was taught ‘how to be human’ by stunned staff.
She was taught to walk upright, how to communicate and how to eat properly for the first time.
Nou 38 jaar oud, she lives as an adult in a special care home looking after animals and is able to speak and communicate some emotions.
One of the care home workers said: “I remember when she was initially brought here. She wasn’t like a human being, she was like a small animal.
“About half a year later she had completely changed.”
Egter, Oxana said she still has time when she feels lonely and reverts back to her canine ways.
Sy het gese: “When I feel lonely, I find myself doing anything I crawl on all fours. This is how lonely I feel.
“Because I have nobody, I spend my time with dogs, I go for walks and do anything I want to. Nobody notices that I walk on all fours.”
She was studied closely by child psychologists and experts and underwent a series of cognitive tests.
They believe she will never be able to catch up on the learning she missed in the crucial years of her development.
In the shocking doc by 60 Minute, Oxana decides that she would like to meet her mother and father who abused her as a child.
Sy het gese: “I want to see them with my own eyes so desperately because I have been told I have no parents, but actually I do have them.”
The team was unable to trace her mother but was able to arrange a tense reunion with her father.
In die clip, the two remain silent before Oxana reaches out to give him a hug and is introduced to her half-sister.
Oxana is sadly not the only feral child case from around the world.
In one of the most well-known cases of children discovered living in the wild, two young girls were found in the Indian jungle in the 1920s.
Rescued from a wolves’ den at the tender ages of three and eight, the children had been living with a female wolf and her protective pack.
It was never clear if the two were related or exactly how they ended up there.
They were both later rescued and taken to an orphanage by Reverend J. A. L. Singh, who tried to help them adjust to human life, starting by naming them Kamala and Amala.
But the pair sadly struggled to adapt to society after their unbelievable start in life and reportedly continued to display “wolf-like behaviour” – such as walking on all fours, being mostly nocturnal and biting people.
The extraordinary case of Marina Chapman goes back to 1954 when she was kidnapped at just five years old from a remote South American village and later abandoned in the jungle.
Mees gelees in News
She claims she was snatched from her back garden in Colombia and dumped in a rainforest – when a family of capuchin monkeys then took her under their wing.
Marina, now in her 70s, says she slept in a hollowed tree, lived on berries, roots and bananas, and moved around on all fours like her fellow mammals for five years.