A real life Tarzan

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First aired on Q (26/04/13) 

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Monkeys raised Marina Chapman. 

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At least that's what she says in her new memoir, The Girl With No Name: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived With Monkeys

The incredible story of a five-year-old girl spending five years amongst Capuchin monkeys in the Colombian jungle is causing quite a stir since it was released on April 1 as many find Chapman's story literally unbelievable. Even the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live poked fun at Chapman's story.

All that doesn't seem to bother Chapman, who went on to become a wife, mother and chef after leaving her monkey family behind in the jungle. She just wants to reunite with her primate family.

"We're going to find my family," Chapman told Q's Jian Ghomeshi in a recent interview, adding that these monkeys can live for 50 years. "I believe they are still there."

Chapman, who now lives in Bradford, U.K., claims she was abducted from her South American home by two men, who abandoned her deep in the Colombian jungle.

At first, she waited for her captors to return. But when she realized no one would come, she stumbled upon the group of Capuchin monkeys. They paid some attention to her, she says, but would be fickle, leaving and returning, venturing slightly closer each time.

"Until one day, one of the monkeys land[ed] on my shoulders," she said.

From there, she followed the monkeys, mimicking their actions, joining in on grooming time and eating any food they might drop. She started to consider them her family.

Several years later, when Chapman believes she was nine years old, two hunters discovered her, practically feral at the time. They sold her to a brothel in exchange for a parrot. She managed to escape and says she found shelter with a kind family.

Fitting in with humans posed many difficulties for a girl who didn't know how to use a toilet or open a door. Chapman also found people hard to understand, and often felt judged by them.

"With monkeys you can know where to stand with them, but not with humans," she says. "It's different, complicated."

Though her publisher had her story analyzed by primate experts and tested Chapman for false memory syndrome, many remain sceptical of her life story.

Still, Chapman maintains that she is telling the truth, and her daughter, Vanessa, stands by her. Vanessa grew up noticing her mother's quirks and oddities. "It would almost be harder to believe that Mom was raised by a normal, human family in Colombia," she said. 

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