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Chinese Zoo Tries to Pass Off Dogs as Lions, Leopards, Timberwolves

Okay, that last one is kind of close, but still, come on, guys.


A Chinese zoo has is taking some flack this week for… well, misrepresenting a couple of their animals, trying to pass off a Tibetan mastiff as an African lion. Their plan was foolproof, unless something strange happened, like the lion started barking or something. So, insightful readers: three guesses what happened next.

It really shouldn’t take more than one to know that the “lion” started barking. Luckily, since Tibetan mastiffs don’t really look like lions to anyone who has ever seen a lion, or, say, had one vaguely described to them. Hilariously, though, the “dog as lion” wasn’t the only clever deception the zoo attempted to pull off. In fact, it’s actually one of the more plausible ones.

The zoo in the People’s Park of Luohe in Henan has been using several common species in their exotic exhibits, kind of like restaurants pretending porcini mushrooms are white truffles, but with living creatures and a lot more sadness. The most wildly ridiculous of these claims was the attempt to disguise a Tibetan mastiff as an African lion.

Let’s be super clear. This is Tibetan mastiff:

tibetan mastiff

This is an African lion:


While both are lovely creatures, you might notice that one is a dog and one is a lion. If so, you apparently have a better grasp of the animal kingdom than a fair number of zoo-goers, who accepted this, and the zoo staff, who didn’t bother to clear up the misconception until called on it.

Once they were alerted that their ruse was up– courtesy of a Ms. Liu, who had in fact brought her son to the zoo to explore animal sounds, when the pair were taken aback by the barking lion– more mislabeled animals were discovered: another dog was disguised as a wolf, a white fox was housed in a leopard den, and two copyu rodents were in a snake cage. Again, just to clear any misconceptions (we don’t judge here– wait, that’s not true at all, but we do try to make sure people can tell mammals and reptiles apart):

Here are a white fox and a leopard. You may notice one has spots and one does not:

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 1.54.46 PM

Here are a snake and a copyu. They are really not the same thing:

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 1.56.57 PM

The chief of the animal department says the zoo does have a lion, but it had to be taken to a breeding facility, while the dog belonged to an employee, which had to be kept in the zoo for safety concerns. If that’s true, we don’t even want to see the cage that serves as day care for the staff’s kids. Or, as the zoo refers to them…wallabies, maybe?

(via AFP, images via ImeldaKenneth Cole Schneider, Wikimedia, Wikipedia)

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