Chinese zoo accused of passing dog off as lion

A zoo in eastern China housed a Tibetan mastiff in their African lion cage, angering visitors who said the zoo was scamming them.

Cat was out of the bag when the dog started barking

The big, hairy Tibetan mastiff breed of dog has become a prized status symbol among China's wealthy. More recently, the dog had its day at the People's Park of Luohe, China, where it confused visitors who saw it in the zoo's African lion enclosure. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

A zoo in eastern China housed a Tibetan mastiff in their African lion cage, angering visitors who said the zoo was scamming them.

After reportedly paying 15 yuan ($2.50) for an entry ticket, one mother said she had brought her son to the zoo so he could learn to identify animal sounds. She was not pleased to hear the ‘lion’ bark rather than roar.

"The zoo is absolutely cheating us," she told the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper. "They are trying to disguise the dogs as lions."

The People's Park of Luohe animal department chief tried to explain to the local reporter that the zoo did have a lion, but it had been sent to a breeding facility.

The cage had remained empty until the zoo authorities decided to use it to temporarily house an employee’s pet dog, he said.

But he had even more explaining to do when the reporter asked why the zoo had rodents in their snake enclosure, a fox in their leopard cage and another dog in the wolf pen.

All temporary, said the chief. The real animals will be back shortly.