By now you have probably realized that I am a stickler for correct terminology. Today’s subject will be dedicated to the difference between the terms “wild” and “feral.” We tend to use them interchangeably, with a certain preference for “wild” when describing things like mustangs (“wild” horses), dromedary camels (“wild” camels), and Courtney Love (“wild” child). None of these things are technically wild. Real wild things have never gone through domestication by humans. When something that has been domesticated is subsequently released or escapes from captivity, it and its descendants are feral. Feral animals (as in the case of pigeons and Courtney Love) are often considered pests. In some instances (as with mustangs), however, this labeling is unjustified as feral animals often take the ecological place left by their extinct or endangered wild counterparts. Let’s start with the dictionary definition of both words as shown on dictionary.com:
1. living in a state of nature; not tamed or domesticated: a wild animal; wild geese.
2. having reverted to the wild state, as from domestication: a pack of feral dogs roaming the woods.
Now it’s time for some fun examples!
African wild dog
Scottish wild cat