MOSCOW — A 3-year-old boy has been hailed as a real-life "Mowgli" after surviving three days lost in the Siberian wilderness with just a piece of chocolate and canine companions.
Tserin Dopchut disappeared Sunday from the tiny village of Khut, some 2,900 miles east of Moscow, in the Russian republic of Tuva.
The boy was being looked after by his grandmother, who let him out of her sight when she was doing the laundry, the Russian news website Life.ru reported.
More than 100 rescuers and a helicopter were deployed to search for the toddler, the local branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said Friday.
But the operation seemed hopeless given the vast area of the Siberian forest — and the fact it's full of bears and wolves.
Miraculously, Tserin was found Thursday less than two miles from his village — all thanks to his canine companions.
He went missing after straying into the woods while playing with the family dog and her two puppies, local governor Sholban Kara-ool explained on Facebook. Upon realizing he was lost, the young boy ate his chocolate bar and found shelter under a tree.
The dogs left him one by one and returned to the village. They were initially ignored amid the panic, but eventually one of the puppies led the rescue party to the boy, his mother, Dan-Khaaya Kurzhepei, told Life.ru.
"[Tserin] couldn't focus at first, he was stressed," she told the website, recalling her first moments reunited with her son. "He couldn't recognize me for a long time."
Kara-ool, the local governor, wrote on Facebook that "the first thing he did when the relative picked him up was ask about his toy car."
The rescue workers named the boy "Mowgli," according to Kara-ool, who joked that the boy should join the emergency services when he grows up given his uncanny survival skills.