TODAY

TODAY   |  April 09, 2013

Woman claims she was raised by monkeys

In a new book, Marina Chapman is claiming that after being kidnapped and left in the Colombian jungle, she was kept alive by capuchin monkeys, surviving on their discarded fruit and nuts, forgetting her name, and living as a monkey for years. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back now, 7:42 with a remarkable claim by a woman who is about to publish her life story . she said she spontaneity good part of her early childhood abandoned in a jungle with only mond monkeys as her family. here's michelle kosinski .

>> reporter: instantly evident in maria chapman is her love for animals. but there is far more.

>> i learned from them.

>> reporter: in her new book she makes a bold claim, that monkeys like these helped her keep her alive for about five years, from the age of 4 kidnapped and left alone in the colombia jungle. she said she survived on their discarded fruit and nuts. years past living as they did. eventually forgetting her parents, her own name, even climbing high in the trees which today in her mid-60s she can do. she said she encountered hunters who sold her into domestic slavery. she ran away. and kindness of a local mother toledo a loving adoptive family as a teenager.

>> how can you be sure that these things really happened to you and not the imagination of a child.

>> it's not imagination. i know. i know what i know. i'm very sure. you become resilient. you survive.

>> reporter: all written down over years by her family. she met her husband at a church in the uk. they have two daughters who say she convinced sue herrera story had to be shared.

>> when you were hearing her story did you just say what?

>> it was an unbelievable, crazy -- it made sense.

>> when you're raised with her --

>> it's normal.

>> what stops you from thinking at some point maybe my mom has been through some stuff, maybe she's a little off balance in some ways and maybe she made up a lot of this?

>> we thought of using the lie detector.

>> so determined they say were they to verify it they went to colombia, tracked down locations and people that corroborated her story.

>> very exciting about finding her monkey family. she said monkeys live up to 55 years.

>> reporter: that part of her life can't be proven so far by authorities or records. animal experts --

>> i can see that.

>> reporter: psychologist who specializes in feral children said some details are stretched.

>> what happens over time is the more you tell the story, some aspects of it get sharper, some get forgot.

>> reporter: twice in recent years children were found in the wild and were protect by monkeys. her family tolerates her wild behavior.

>> every morning she wakes up and i got hand i got feet i got the simple things .

>> reporter: our team couldn't help having a hard time disbelieving fully what should be an unbelievable story. for today, michelle kosinski , nbc news, bradford, england.

>> who wants to go first?

>> i kind of believe it. the question is, is that repressed memories or something?

>> or enhanced memories.

>> or imagination?

>> it's possible.

>> she can climb that tree at 60.

>> that was a good one.

>> the family in corroborated some of the story.

>> it sounds ridiculous on the surface. the more you hear about her wanting to find her monkey family.

>> we're cynics in this business. it would be nice to