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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 21:58 GMT
Zoo shows off rare tiger cubs
Zoo worker holds up tiger cub to school children in Buenos Aires zoo
Zoo officials said everyone was "absolutely thrilled" at the births
Six cubs from a rare white tiger have been put on display in an Argentine zoo for the first time.

White tiger Betty and her partner Conde became proud parents in November at Buenos Aires zoo.

The cubs are expected to begin eating meat at the age of three months and will eventually grow to more than seven feet (two metres) in length.

White tigers have been hunted almost to extinction for their prized fur and only about 200 remain, mostly in zoos.

Zoo spokeswoman Alejandra Durruty said everyone was "absolutely thrilled" at the sextuplets' birth.

"Giving birth to six is extremely rare," she told the Associated Press news agency.

"We're happy they've had so much success reproducing in captivity."

Naming contest

Veterinarians at the zoo said they were feeding the smaller cubs with special milk in order to control their weight.

Betty the white tiger
Mother Betty has already had triplets
"When there are six it is a huge burden for the mother and it is hard for all of them to survive... one of them is usually a runt and is not well fed and dies," chief veterinarian Miguel Rivolta told ABC news.

"This way the six should survive. This is work as difficult as the work the mother has to do herself."

It is the second litter for Betty and Conde, who had triplets 18 months ago.

Officials said they are planning a contest in which Argentine schoolchildren will be given the opportunity to name the cubs.

The BBC's Aaron Scullion
"White tigers have been hunted almost to extinction"

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