By Ashleigh / Nov 28, 2022
Marina Chapman just remembered a hand covering her mouth before she blacked out. There were two figures dragging her somewhere.
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She woke up scared and alone. She recognized that she was in a rainforest far from civilization. The only animals around her that seemed interested were the primates of the jungle. That’s how things took a drastic turn.
This is the story of a woman named Marina Chapman. That is the name she goes by nowadays. However, she doesn’t know anything about the name she was given at birth, who her parents were, or what happened before the event that changed her life forever.
Marina’s first memory of contact with humans dates back to when she was 10 years old. For the time before that, she had been living among a family of monkeys. And that’s not all.
A Thrilling Life
Even after she managed to get out of the jungle and contact other human beings, her life was a succession of outlandish, thrilling, and dangerous events. It took her years to start living a fairly normal life.
However, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Recently, Marina has published a book titled The Girl With No Name, where she recounts her life story. This is how it happened:
Her First Memory
Marina Chapman doesn’t have a clue of where exactly she grew up, who her parents were, or what happened to her before she was 4 years old. Her first memory is that of her kidnapping.
She remembers being grabbed by some strangers and waking up in a truck in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest. Then, the men forced her out of her trunk. She remembers fearing for her life.
They Left Her There
But the men didn’t do anything to her. Instead, they just left her there all by herself. Marina remembers thinking, and even hoping, that they would come back, but they never did.
Marina came across a group of capuchin monkeys that was settled in one area of the rainforest. She felt relieved when she saw them. They weren’t human, but they at least looked human-like.
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She decided to settle in that part of the jungle, where at least she wouldn’t be all alone. Little did she know that the situation was way riskier than she could have imagined.
They Could Have Been Hostile
Capuchins aren’t usually kind to strangers. They could have easily perceived her as a threat or an enemy and rounded up on her, but they didn’t. Marina saw how deep-knitted, trustful and cooperative their community was. She would have liked to be a part of that.
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But at first, all the monkeys did was ignore her. She saw them recollecting food together, playing and grooming each other. Marina was jealous. It took weeks before she finally got her first contact with the family of monkeys.
An Older Monkey Reached Out
One day, Marina ate some tamarind and got food poisoning. For the whole day, she could do nothing but lay on the ground. She noticed that the group of monkeys was staring at her. At first, she felt a bit scared.
Suddenly, one of the older monkeys walked toward her. He took her hand and guided her to a lake of muddy waters. Marina, weakened by her illness, could do nothing but comply. Then, the old monkey forced her to drink from the dirty water.
Marina threw up, and she instantly recovered from her illness. The old monkey, to whom she now refers as “Grandpa”, had saved her life! From that moment, she began to be accepted by the rest of the family.v
She started hanging out and playing with the younger monkeys. The older ones taught her how to climb trees, reach higher-hanging fruits, and clean herself. And that wasn’t all.
One Of The Family
After some time, they also started giving her some portion of the food they recollected and even began grooming her! Shortly, it was like Marina was a rightful member of the family. They treated her like one of them.
They allowed her to sit with them by the trees to eat fruit, and Marina would get nervous every time the group of monkeys stayed away for too long while looking for food. It seemed like she had found her 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 its 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.”
Found The World
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.
The New Humanitarian
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 Questions 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.