Image: Argentina White Tigers
Eduardo Di Baia  /  AP
Bety, a female white tiger, holds one of her three 45 days-old cubs at the Buenos Aires Zoo, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007. The captive Bengal white tiger gave birth to two females and one male on Dec. 23, boosting these animals' endangered population. There are only 240 white tigers in the world.
updated 2/9/2007 8:18:14 PM ET 2007-02-10T01:18:14

Three white tiger cubs just weeks old debuted Thursday at the Buenos Aires Zoo in Argentina, romping in pen before delighted children and their parents.

The cubs — two females and a male — were born Dec. 23 to Conde and Bety at the zoo in the Argentine capital, and had since been kept out of view.

The cubs weighed about 2.2 pounds at birth and were gaining weight fast, with each now weighing about 13 pounds.

The three siblings have been cavorting 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.

The zoo has been swamped with thousands of suggested names for the cubs, and 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," said zoo spokesperson Florencia Presa.

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.

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.

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