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Your morning adorable: Chilean zoo welcomes five white tiger cubs

Two of five newborn white tigers sit in Santiago's Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago

The Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago, Chile, is celebrating the birth of five rare white tigers late last month. Zoo staff are already planning an elaborate new enclosure for the cubs and their parents, father Pampa (who arrived in Chile from Argentina in 2007) and mother Luna (who was brought to the zoo from Mexico in 2004). The enclosure will include a large grassy area to allow the tigers to roam, as well as several waterfalls so, we imagine, they can pretend they're at a fancy Las Vegas resort.

White tigers, contrary to popular belief, aren't albinos. Instead, they have a genetic mutation that affects the pigment in their fur.

The cubs recently underwent their first veterinary exam before a crowd of zoogoers, and a video of the exam seems to show that the onlookers were far more excited about the event than the cubs were (read: yowling and hissing). More photos after the jump!

Two of five newborn white tigers sit in Santiago's Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago

Two of five newborn white tigers sit in Santiago's Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago

Two of five newborn white tigers sit in Santiago's Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago

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-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo credit: Roberto Candia / Associated Press

 
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What gorgeous cubs! Thanks for sharing.

Breeding white tigers is done solely to draw paying crowds. All captive white tigers are inbred, which has led to serious congenital defects including cataracts, club feet, and near-crippling hip dysplasia.

Tigers are designed by nature to roam far and wide, to hunt and claim territory. In zoos, all the genetic drives calling to them are denied. Most captive big cats exhibit neurotic behaviors like constantly pacing.

No captive-bred tiger, white or orange, will ever be released into the wild. The large sums of money wasted on breeding in zoos would be more responsibly directed toward legitimate conservation groups working to reduce the main factors contributing to the decline of tigers in the wild: poaching and habitat loss.


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