Often referred to as the “Wolf Boy”, Dina Sanichar is one of the oldest known cases of a feral child in modern history. It is believed Sanichar was the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling’s famous “The Jungle Book” which has had many popular movie adaptations over the years.
Dina Sanichar was assumed to be 6 years old when he was discovered by a group of hunters in 1867. He was spotted with a pack of wolves running on four legs in the dense forest of Bulandshahr district, Uttar Pradesh in India.
The hunters killed the wolves and brought the boy to the Sikandra Mission Orphanage near Agra. He was named Sanichar – meaning Saturday in the local language, for the day he was rescued.
Sanichar wasn’t the only feral child found at the time. There were at least four other similar cases in various regions of India at the time, but he was the most documented case. Lucien Malson, a French philosopher in his book, Wolf Children and the Problem of Human Nature notes that Sanichar had set together “cruder, less specifically human” forms of communication. Like many other cases of feral children, Sanichar would bark, growl, howl like an animal, ate raw meat, and rip off any clothes put on.
Child psychologist Wayne Dennis would note in his 1941 American Journal of Psychology paper, The Significance of Feral Man – “Feral man upon capture, if not entirely mute, may make animal sounds. Their utterances mostly consist of inarticulate grunts, screeches, and discordant yells.”
People at the orphanage worked on his behavior and he was able to eat normally, walk straight and dress normally. He, however, could not talk throughout his entire life but did demonstrate the basic ability to reason and was avid with certain tasks.
Sanichar eagerly adopted smoking and turned into a prolific chain smoker. He spent his whole life at the orphanage showing very little signs of improvement. Dina Sanichar lived a short life, dying at the young age of 34 in 1895. It is speculated that he died because of Tuberculosis.
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