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10 People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Animals have always played a huge part in human civilization, helping us to grow, hunt and harvest food; in ancient times, they were the primary means of transport. Pets, these days, range from domestic animals such as cats and dogs, to more exotic animals such as tigers, parrots and even bears. But what about equality?

Some people don’t just befriend animals or use them to help carry out tasks. Instead, they live with the creatures as one of their own, rather than as an owner. No matter the reasons involved, I respect that; besides, the stories of those who have lived with animals can be truly amazing. So, check out 10 people who decided animals can be more than friends;  they can be family.

10. Timothy Treadwell | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Timothy Treadwell | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Timothy Treadwell was a bear enthusiast who lived with brown bears in the Katmai National Park, almost entirely by himself, for 13 consecutive summers. He became known to the media after films showing him coming in very close contact with the grizzly bears became widespread. Despite safety concerns from many, Treadwell would touch bears and even handle cubs.

9. Tippi Degre

Tippi Degre | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Born in Namibia to French parents who worked as wildlife photographers, Tippi Degre spent most of her early childhood living in a variety of African countries. During that time, she would often come into close contact with wild animals and became particularly friendly with a specific elephant, leopard and would even touch and play with lion cubs, giraffes, zebras, snakes amongst others.

8. Shaun Ellis 

Shaun Ellis | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Throughout his adult life, Shaun Ellis has spent a significant amount of time living with various wolf packs. This has included living in captivity with the animals to help raise pups and also living with wild wolves for up to two years, in order to conduct research and study the animals. Even when not living directly with Wolves, Ellis would often live in very close proximity so that he could spend as much time as possible with the animals.

7. Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Jane Goodall is perhaps one of the most famous field researchers in the world, thanks to her work in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, from 1960 on-wards. Over the course of thirty years, she developed strong relationships with some chimpanzees and remains the only person to have been successfully accepted into a chimpanzee troupe. The researcher would exchange hugs, kisses and other social cues with the animals, including tickling, while living with them.

6. John Ssebunya

John Ssebunya | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

John Ssebunya was just two or three years old when his father killed his mother and then fled, leaving the young child completely defenseless. While most children of that age would not be able to survive without the care of adults, John was able to stave off hunger and keep warm, thanks to the help of a collection of monkeys.

5. James Joblon 

James Joblon | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

In 2011, a founder of a rehabilitation center for animals in Hernando County near Tampa, spent a month living in the lion enclosure. The plan was to raise awareness of the sanctuary and to gather donations to help keep it open. With live feeds available for anyone to view over the internet and a microphone, the former stockbroker slept, ate and wrestled with the lions, with just a few scratches and scrapes to show for his efforts.

4. Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Dian Fossey was perhaps the greatest authority on the behavior and physiology of mountain gorillas, thanks to the years she spent living with the great apes in Congo and Rwanda. She spent several months observing the animals before eventually becoming familiar with them and was then able to socialize with them. She also has a bestselling book that was later adapted into the hit film Gorillas in the Mist, giving more exposure to her work and the conservation of mountain gorillas.

3. Traian Caldarar | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Traian Caldarar | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Traian Caldarar is a boy who grew up in Romania. At the age of around three or four, he escaped from his abusive father and without knowing anywhere else to go, simply ended up living wild. When he was found (aged seven) in 2002, Traian was severely malnourished and had not grown to the size that would usually be expected for children of that age. From what investigators and doctors could piece together, the boy had been living rough and had only survived thanks to the help of the stray dogs that are numerous in the area.

2. Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Rather than living with any particular set of animals, Marcos Rodriguez Pantoja became friendly with a wide variety of animals during his 12 years of living in a mountainous region. After the farmer who had bought him from his family had died, Pantoja was left alone in an unfamiliar area. To survive, he hunted rabbits and milked goats left on the farm.

1. Marina Chapman | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

Marina Chapman | People Who Lived Among Wild Animals

At just five years of age, Marina Chapman was kidnapped from her home and driven deep into the Colombian jungle, where she was later dumped. Unable to find any form of human civilization, she eventually came across Capuchin monkeys who, rather than adopt her as part of the family, tolerated her and allowed the child to live with them. Thanks to their help, Marina was able to scavenge for fruit and other food and survive in the harsh environment.

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