The story of a young woman who was abandoned at 3-years-old and raised by dogs went viral.
Oxana Malaya, 23, is just one of about 100 people known in the world to be a feral child, The Age reports. In a Ukrainian village, the woman was reportedly abandoned by alcoholic parents and left outside of her home by herself. The story goes that she crawled into a hovel where her parents kept dogs and began to be “raised” by the animals.
Five years later, a neighbor finally reported a young girl living with animals. In 1991, 8-year-old Malaya was found hardly able to speak and displaying dog-like behavior. She was reportedly found on all fours barking at the time of her rescue.
Years later, her strange upbringing came to light in several aspects of her life, including in her relationships. Malaya once showed a boyfriend what she once was able to do as a feral child, barking and running around on all fours. That relationship quickly ended.
“I expected someone much less human,” British child psychologist Lyn Fry, a feral children expert, said of Malaya.
Fry visited Malaya in Ukraine in 2006 at a home for the mentally disabled and found she had the mental capacity of a 6-year-old.
“Her language is odd. She speaks flatly as though it's an order," Fry said. "There is no cadence or rhythm or music to her speech, no inflection or tone. But she has a sense of [humor]. She likes to be the [center] of attention, to make people laugh. Showing off is quite a surprising skill when you consider her background."
Malaya reportedly looks after cows on a farm at the home where she resides. “It was dirty, terribly rundown and primitive,” Fry said, “but in Ukrainian terms, very desirable ... Oxana is doing things she is good at."
The woman’s story recently went viral, with many doubting the legitimacy of her upbringing.
“Legit "feral" children often never (re)gain the ability to speak normally or conduct normal lives," one Reddit user commented. "A lack of human contact and socialization has very adverse affects on a developing child. This story reeks of embellishment and straight bullshit as a sideshow act."