A mother and her son were surprised when the “African lion” at a zoo in China’s Henan province started barking at them. Now the zoo in the People’s Park of Luohe, China, is under fire for attempting to pass off ordinary animals for exotic ones. The “lion” turned out to be a Tibetan mastiff, which belonged to one of the zoo’s workers. There was another dog in the wolf cage, rats in the snake cage and a white fox where leopards were meant to be.
There was no official explanation for the change of exhibits, but a zookeeper said the lion had been sent to a breeding center. A reporter at the Telegraph’s Beijing bureau suggests that, “Chinese zoos have struggled to make money in recent years, after a government ruling that animal shows should cease and that they should operate on a non-profit basis.” The animal switcheroo may have been envisioned as a cost-saving measure albeit one that visitors to the zoo weren’t keen on. One visitor was quoted in Beijing Youth Daily as saying: “The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us. They are trying to disguise dogs as lions.”