‘Jungle Book’ Girl Believed To Have Been Recently Abandoned, Not Raised By Monkeys

In northern India, police are going through their missing children reports from previous years in an attempt to identify a young girl they found more than two months ago, living in a forest with a group of monkeys.

The Washington Post reported that a naked human girl roamed in the Katraniaghat forest range, playing with the monkeys as if she were one of them. Even though she appeared to be in a comfortable state, her hair was disheveled and she looked emaciated.

The Washington Post has now reported that they’ve received new information since this story was initially published; information that raises doubts about the veracity of the accounts on which the story was based. They’re now questioning the story of a girl being raised by monkeys in the forest. It appears to be true that the girl was abandoned near the forest, but officials don’t believe she had been living with the monkeys.

The Guardian reported that officials now say that the Indian girl found in the jungle was not living with monkeys: in fact, it’s believed she was recently abandoned by her carers. After being rescued, she was treated at the Bahraich Hospital in northern India.

The Jungle Book story comes to mind when hearing about a child living in the forest with monkeys, but doctors and officials involved in the case say the true story is much worse. It was initially reported that the girl, who they believe to be around eight-years-old, had been found naked, crawling on all fours, and screeching at her rescuers. It was even claimed that, in order to rescue the girl, police had been forced to fight off monkeys. The District Chief Forestry Officer said that doctors believe that the girl has physical and mental disabilities, and it’s likely that she was abandoned in the wilderness by her carers.

However, it has now come to light that the girl was not found deep in the wilderness, but on the side of the road near the forest. And yes, there were monkeys in the vicinity, but she was not found living with monkeys. The Forestry Officer believes that the girl was abandoned by family members, who “had been aware that she is not able to speak,” and would also have been aware of her disabilities.

“If she was living with monkeys it would have been for a few days only, not for a long time. It’s clear from first time view, if you see the girl, that she is only eight or nine years old, but her facial expressions show that she is disabled, not only mentally but also physically. The Katraniaghat forest is very closely monitored by CCTV and ranges, and it highly unlikely that she would have survived in the wilderness for very long without being spotted.”

The young girl was discovered in January, and the Chief Medical Officer at the hospital in Bahraich where the girl has been receiving treatment said he’s unsure as to how long the girl has been abandoned.

“In India, people do not prefer a female child and she is mentally not sound. So, all the more [evidence] she was left there.”

Ankur Lal said they’re still investigating the child’s disability, but it’s not likely she was raised in the forest.

“When she was found, she was behaving violently. She had no toilet habits, no communication. So it was taken that she had been living in the jungle for long.”

But since being hospitalized the girl has made rapid improvements, and doctors now believe that she was in fact raised by people.

“Initially she was crawling but now she is walking normally – so she hasn’t been in the jungle since birth.”

Ranjana Kumari is a leading activist in the movement to promote the welfare of young girls in a society where, sadly, female foeticide is very common.

“The truth of the matter is her family didn’t want to look after her. Some families value girls less than boys. They would rather get rid of the girl than spend money on her. It is a lot more responsibility because of the social environment we live in.”

Kumari said very little help is offered to families with children with disabilities, and when the child is a girl it becomes a double issue.

It is planned that the girl will be moved to a children’s home in Lucknow to continue her recovery.

The original story concerning the girl discovered in the forest was that monkeys surrounded the girl when police approached her, protecting her as if she were one of their own. An officer was attacked while the girl screeched at him, and after rescuing the girl, the officer took off in his patrol car with the monkeys chasing him.

The story continued that her behavior indicated that she had lived among the primates since she was a baby, that when she arrived at the hospital she was covered in wounds, and that her hair and nails were unkempt like monkeys. And even though she was capable of walking, she would suddenly drop down on all fours.

D.K. Singh spoke to Associated Press in a video-recorded interview.

“The way she moved, even her eating habits were like that of an animal. She would throw food on the ground and eat it directly with her mouth, without lifting it with her hands. She used to move around using only her elbows and her knees.”

Singh also spoke to the New Indian Express, saying that she “behaves like an ape and screams loudly if doctors try to reach out to her,” while another doctor said that the girl doesn’t understand anything, and makes ape-like noises and facial expressions.

Sky News reported that the girl’s health and behavior have improved significantly over the past two months. She is now walking normally and eating food by herself. Even though she is unable to speak, she’s now using gestures to communicate, and sometimes she smiles.

Whatever the real story, this poor child has had a very cruel and unfortunate start in life, and one can only hope that she receives the love and care she so desperately needs, and deserves, at the children’s home in Lucknow.

[Featured Composite Image containing photos by KK Productions/AP Images]