Russian police find feral girl in Siberia

Wed May 27, 2009 7:07am EDT

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MOSCOW May 27 (Reuters) - Russian police have taken into care a 5-year-old girl who has been shut up in a flat in the company of cats and dogs for her entire life, police said on Wednesday.

The girl, who lived in the Eastern Siberian city of Chita, could not speak Russian and acted like an dog when police took her into care.

"For five years, the girl was 'brought up' by several dogs and cats and had never been outside," a police statement said.

"The unwashed girl was dressed in filthy clothes, had the clear attributes of an animal and jumped at people," it said.

The flat had no heat, water or sewage system.

A police spokeswoman said the girl, known as Natasha, is being monitored by psychologists in an orphanage. Her mother was being questioned but her father has not been found yet.

She appears to be about 2-years-old, though her real age is five, refuses to eat with a spoon and has taken on many of the gestures of the animals with which she lived, police said.

"When carers leave the room, the girl jumps at the door and barks," the police said.

Feral children, the stuff of folklore all over the world, usually exhibit the behaviour of the animals with whom they have had closest contact, a condition known as the Mowgli Syndrome after the fictional child from Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" who was raised by wolves in the jungle.

Such children have usually built strong ties with the animals with whom they lived and find the transition to normal human contact extremely traumatic. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Farah Master)

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