The white elephants bathe in Myanmar (Reuters/ Soe Zeya Tun)

When most people hear the phrase "white elephant" they think of the old idiom of an inescapable burden, rather than the animals themselves.

However new pictures have emerged of the real thing in Naypyitaw, capital city of Myanmar.

The albino elephants are rare, but not a distinct species of their own and there are currently three kept in the country, where they are considered revered symbols of power and good fortune.

The white elephants are belived to be sacred and lucky (Reuters / Soe Zeya Tun) Reuters

The white elephant idiom originates from a former custom that would see the king of Thailand, then Siam, make a present of an animal to people who had displeased him, financially crippling them with the cost of caring for the creature.

In the nineteenth century, 'white elephant markets' were the title of sales or trades of unwanted and burdensome material.

The animals are considered sacred because of their presence in the story of the birth of Buddha, which saw his mother dreaming of a white elephant.

There are very few albino elephants in the world (Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)