China purrs over white tiger triplets

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Three playful white Bengal tiger cubs are charming visitors as they clamber around their enclosure at a zoo in China.

The rare, blue-eyed triplets were born nearly three months ago at the Yunnan Wildlife Zoo in Kunming, and made their public debut in early October.

“The oldest one — the largest — is very naughty and has a real appetite. He’s the naughtiest. The youngest is like a baby, she’s gentle. She never wins when fighting for food,” zookeeper Hao Li said.

The cubs’ busy mother is getting a helping hand keeping her youngsters from getting hungry, with keepers always ready to step in with a bottle.

The tigers’ white fur is a genetic variation of the common orange Bengal tiger.

The mutation seldom occurs in the wild, but the zoo is home to 41 cats of this rare white variety.

There are currently more than 2,500 Bengal tigers outside captivity, most of them in India, according to conservation group World Wildlife Fund.

A competition is being held to name the three newborns, with final names chosen at the end of October.

— This story accompanies a photo essay by Fred Dufour and video by Pak Yiu —

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