Skip to main content

Chinese zoo angers visitors by passing off hairy Tibetan mastiff dog as lion

By CNN Staff
updated 2:52 AM EDT, Fri August 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hairy dog displayed as "African lion" in Chinese zoo, state media reports
  • The cage at a zoo in Louhe, Henan Province, contained a Tibetan mastiff
  • Zoo staff said the dog was placed in the enclosure for "security concerns"
  • The zoo also had a dog on display in a wolf enclosure, and a fox presented as a leopard

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A zoo in China has angered visitors by trying to pass off a hairy dog as a lion, Chinese state media reported.

A visitor, surnamed Liu, told the state-run Beijing Youth Daily she discovered the fraud when visiting a zoo in a park in Louhe, a city in the central province of Henan, with her son.

As they approached the cage marked "African lion," they were shocked to hear the beast inside emit a bark.

It was a Tibetan mastiff -- a large, hairy breed of dog.

"The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us," Liu said. "They are trying to disguise dogs as lions."

A Tibetan mastiff (not a lion).
A Tibetan mastiff (not a lion).

Other species in the park were similarly mislabeled, the newspaper reported, with another dog in the wolf cage, and a white fox on display in the leopard enclosure.

The head of the park's animal department, Liu Suya, told CNN that the animals had been substituted for various reasons, and would be back in their rightful place soon.

The lion and leopard had both been removed for breeding, she said, with the Tibetan mastiff placed in the lion's cage temporarily "due to safety concerns."

The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us. They are trying to disguise dogs as lions.
Liu, zoo visitor

Similarly, the dog had been placed in the wolf enclosure to breed a hybrid wolf-dog, she said. "We're not doing it out of shortage of funds," she said.

The substitute lion has drawn ridicule on Chinese social media, with one commenter describing the situation as "absurd."

"If this works why would people even bother to go to the zoo!" wrote Guohebaxiaoma. "Children will cry out 'look a lion came out!' at the sight of Tibetan Mastiff or 'look it's a rat!' seeing snake on the street...This is totally absurd!"

Yidongdexulaoshi said: "This time you're lucky. Because perhaps next time you will find that all the animals in the zoo are played by the faculty. LOL."

"It's way too ironic. Why doesn't the zoo simply just put the zookeeper in a cage with the sign "Gorilla" on its gate," Lanseyapingningliuxunqing added.

READ MORE: Chinese craze for dyeing pets to look like wild animals

CNN's Dayu Zhang contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:53 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
updated 5:39 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
It'd be hard to find another country that has spent as much, and as furiously, as China on giving its next generation a head start.
updated 12:32 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
In 1985, Meng Weina set up China's first private special needs school in the southern city of Guangzhou.
updated 3:14 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
updated 10:38 PM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
updated 3:26 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
updated 8:01 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
updated 8:14 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
updated 12:51 AM EST, Tue November 11, 2014
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
updated 9:19 PM EST, Sun November 2, 2014
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
updated 9:55 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
updated 12:00 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
updated 1:18 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
ADVERTISEMENT