In 1725, King George I and his attendants made a startling discovery while hunting in the Hertswold Forest, 25 miles from Hanover, Germany.
What they found was a young boy scampering through the thicket on all fours like an animal and climbing trees with ease. He did not speak to the men at all and resorted to making growling and grunting noises instead.
Fascinated by the feral child, the king returned from his hunting trip with the boy in tow. He became something of a “human pet” and was given the name of Peter.
As word spread about Peter’s arrival, he quickly became a sensation among the townspeople and was known as Peter the Wild Boy. Questions of how he came to live in the woods arose.
Since he was found wearing a shirt collar around his neck, it seemed that he was once under the care of a person. It was thought that he was the child of one of the criminals who worked in the area, and he had wandered into the woods and lost his way. Another theory was that he had been abandoned by his parents.
At first, Peter struggled to adjust to life in a royal palace. It was difficult to get him to stay dressed in his green outfit. At one point, he escaped from his new home and was found hiding in an enormous tree, which had to be sawed down to reach him.
A Scottish physician named Dr. John Arbuthnot was appointed to teach Peter how to read, write, and speak. However, Peter made very little progress. The most he ever learned to say was his own name and “King George.”
He did seem to understand everything that was spoken to him and was rather fond of music. He delighted the royal household by dancing and jumping around to any tune that was played.
Eventually, Peter was sent to live with a farmer who had connections to the royal household. In 1751, Peter went missing. Despite searching far and wide and even posting advertisements, all efforts proved to be fruitless. It seemed like he was lost forever.