The students at Nappanee Elementary School surmised that if Mila was raised by dolphins then

another wild species might be responsible for the rearing of Shay.

In fact, Shay, inspired by Genie, a documented feral child discovered in California in 1970,

had, like Genie, been brought up by humans, her own parents, who, by subjecting her to extreme neglect, stunted her emotional, intellectual, and physical growth.