A mother bear appears to have cared for a missing 16-month-old Iranian toddler who was found safe and sound three days later in the animal's den, the Kayhan newspaper said yesterday.

The child's parents, from a nomadic tribe in western Lorestan province, returned to their tent after working in the fields to find him missing, Kayhan said.

Three days later, a search party found the baby, who they said had probably been breast fed by a mother bear, in a den some 10kms away from the nomadic settlement. A medical examination showed the baby was in good health, the daily said.