A motorist has been detained in eastern China for allegedly trafficking white tiger cubs, which he claimed were a litter of Persian cat kittens, according to a news website report.
The three white tiger cubs were discovered in a small van on Monday night at a highway services area in Huzhou in Zhejiang province, Zjol.com.cn reported.
Police said the car was stopped when it tried to bypass a checkpoint.
A strong smell coming from the car also caught the attention of police, the report said.
The driver first insisted the animals were Persian kittens.
Police officers checked information online and with the help of the local forest police finally identified them as white tiger cubs.
They are a protected species in China.
The driver later told police he worked for a zoo in Jiangsu province and was transporting the animals, but failed to provide any documentation to back up his story.
The three cubs are now under the care of a wildlife rescue centre.
It is a criminal offence in China to transport or sell protected wildlife acquired illegally.