BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The Buenos Aires Zoo has been swamped with thousands of suggested names for three rare white tiger cubs that made their public debut this week.
The cubs – two females and a male – were born Dec. 23 to parents Conde and Bety at the Argentine capital zoo. The three siblings have been romping in the grass of their outdoor pen to the delight of schoolchildren out for South America’s summer vacations.
“They’re just so playful,” Buenos Aires Zoo spokeswoman Florencia Presa said Friday.
A big box for entries in a naming contest has been filling fast. “Already there are 5,000 slips filled out and the box keeps filling,” she said.
The winners will be picked in a few months with the three lucky children whose names are selected becoming “godparents” to the cubs and getting a yearlong pass to visit.
Conde and Bety – two white Bengal tigers – had triplets in 2002, and two years later had another six cubs.
“She cares for her cubs very much, and the cubs are proving quite playful,” Presa said. “They are sniffing the grass, picking up on the scent of the other zoo animals and just beginning to awaken their senses.”
Meanwhile, the cubs, which are still nursing, are growing fast. Weighing in at just over 2 pounds each at birth, the cubs now weigh about 13 pounds apiece.
White tigers are not a separate subspecies but the result of both parents having a recessive gene for white coloration. They are rare in the wild because standing out in the jungle does not help catch prey.