A Chinese zoo has tried to pass off a hairy Tibetan dog as a lion, and has angered some visitors in the process, according to a report by state media.
A visitor to the zoo, located in the city of Louhe in the central province of Henan, told the Beijing Youth Daily that she approached a cage marked “African lion” with her son and was shocked when the beast inside barked.
It was a large, hairy breed of dog called a Tibetan mastiff.
“The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us,” said the visitor, whose surname is Liu. “They are trying to disguise dogs as lions.”
The head of the zoo’s animal department, Liu Suya, said the animals had been temporarily substituted for various reasons, and would be returned to their own cages soon.
She explained that the leopard and lion had been removed for breeding, and the Tibetan mastiff was placed in the lion’s cage “due to safety concerns.”
She also said the dog was placed in the wolf cage in order to breed a hybrid wolf-dog.
Chinese social media has ridiculed the substitute lion in particular, with one commenter asking whether the zoo even had a lion at all, the newspaper reported.