Chinese zoo's African lion turns out to be just a big, fluffy dog

dog as lion photo
CC BY 2.0 faungg

In the last two decades, the number of African lions in the world has dropped by nearly half. But not to let a pesky issue like species decline get in the way of their animal offerings, one zoo in China has taken an interesting step to round out their exhibit -- by trying to pass a fluffy dog off as a ferocious lion.

The BBC reports that the zoo, located in Louhe City, enlisted a long, golden-haired Tibetan mastiff as a stand-in for the iconic big cat. For those unfamiliar with what lions are suppose to look like, or who forgot their glasses, the canine's appearance might have been convincing enough, but when the 'lion' opened its mouth, the ruse was quickly up.

According to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily, the fraud came to light when a mother visited the zoo, in a park in the city of Louhe, to show her son the sounds different animals made.

But when they got to the cage marked "African lion" - which had a sign describing the range and characteristics of the animal - they were shocked to hear the creature bark.

Visitors expecting to see the king of the jungle were none too happy to find man's best friend in its place: "The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us. They are trying to disguise dogs as lions," said one woman.

Zoo officials say that the dog was only being used as a temporary replacement; their actual lion, so it seems, was on a brief hiatus from the exhibit and was instead at a nearby breeding center. Still, as many iconic species, including dozens of the world's big cats, are harder to come by due to diminishing populations in the wild, counterfeit creature on exhibit at zoos just might be a future trend.

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