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Last Updated: Monday December 24 2007 14:33 GMT

Tiger cubs found dead at zoo

Siberian tiger cubs
Siberian tigers are among the world's rarest animals

Two endangered Siberian tiger cubs have been found dead in a freezer at a zoo in China.

They were found in an office at a wildlife park in the south-west of the country.

Tiger body parts are treasured as medicines in China, but only about 400 Siberian tigers are thought to be still living in the wild.

On Thursday a female Siberian tiger was found dead in the same area. Thieves had broken into its cage and killed it.

Buying and selling tigers was banned in China in 1993, so these deaths could be a sign that the trade in body parts of these rare animals may be on the rise.

In traditional Chinese medicine different parts of a tiger's body are believed to help cure complaints like skin disease and toothache.

Tiger fur is still seen as a status symbol in some parts of the country.