updated 7/6/2007 5:31:24 PM ET 2007-07-06T21:31:24

All four white Bengal tiger cubs born this week at a traveling zoo exhibit died within a few hours of one another, a zoo official said. A cause of death was not immediately released.

The cubs were born Tuesday to Gita and Splash, two royal white Bengal tigers on display at the Zoo Dynamics exhibit at the Mighty Thomas Carnival, which is traveling through Duluth. Marcus Cook, senior animal care specialist with Zoo Dynamics, said the young tigers all died between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Cook said the cubs did not die as a result of care or zoo conditions, and added that they had been nursing. A veterinarian from the Lake Superior Zoo had examined the cubs Thursday morning but could not pinpoint a cause of death.

"It could be a million things that happened, even before conception," Cook said.

The cubs' small bodies, each weighing less than three pounds, will be shipped to a laboratory for examination, Cook said.

Some animal-rights groups disapprove of breeding white tigers, claiming they must be inbred to recreate the rare white coloring. Cook said the cubs were "clean," five generations back.

Gita has two other male cubs born in 2005 that are at an animal facility in Amarillo, Texas. Cook said the female tiger was taken on tour while pregnant because she would have been stressed had Splash and her handlers been gone for an extended time.

Zoo Dynamics, based in Dallas, describes itself as a provider of difficult-to-maintain animals for smaller zoos, resorts, commercial events and other exhibits.

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