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 2:01 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
CNN's Brian Stelter talks with CCTV correspondent Jim Spellman on how the Chinese media has covered MH370's mystery.
China's economy has bested many others in just the past 10 years.
updated 2:02 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
In China, users of the "Life Black Box" website can set up final farewells to their friends in case they suddenly die.
updated 1:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
A recent university study claims Chinese micro-blogging activity might not be as vibrant as expected.
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Chinese art has been fetching some serious cash -- here's how we can elbow into the market
updated 10:51 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
A Shanghainese collector paid $36 million for this tiny cup decorated with chickens.
updated 2:57 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Ben Richardson on corruption in China: a veil of secrecy shrouds the links between power and wealth.
China's economy is slowing and growth in 2014 could fall short of the government's official target, according to a CNNMoney survey of economists.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is the first foreigner to visit the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.
updated 9:26 PM EDT, Sun April 6, 2014
If the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 caused a rift in China-Malaysia relations, the two countries appear to have put it behind them.
updated 1:17 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
Martin Jacques argues that in the twenty-first century, China will challenge our perception of what it is to be modern.
A new survey of university students in China shows where they most want to work. What are the dream employers for Chinese students?
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
What are President Xi Jinping's greatest goals as he visits the EU headquarters in Brussels?
Last year, thousands of Chinese tourists flocked to Yellowstone National Park to view the mountains, the buffalo and Old Faithful.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
A senior Bloomberg News journalist quit his role earlier this month, saying the "mishandling" by his bosses of a story critical of China was behind his departure.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
"The aim is to let [families of MH370 passengers] express anger while keeping them restrained," says a Chinese official.
updated 9:58 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama's secret weapon in China? Michelle.
updated 10:53 PM EDT, Wed March 26, 2014
Private schools that employ humanistic pedagogy for young children are becoming popular in China. A look at the factors behind the boom and potential pitfalls.
ADVERTISEMENT