A zoo in China is facing an uproar of criticism this week, after it was revealed that its African lion is in fact a dog.
This is not like the urban legend of the “dog” that is really a rat (or capybara). These zookeepers knew exactly what they were doing:
The zoo, located in the People’s Park of Luohe in the province of Henan, reportedly tried to disguise a Tibetan mastiff as a big cat, putting it on display in a cage marked “African lion”, according to AFP. The Tibetan mastiff is a large, long-haired dog with a slightly lion-like mane, but the zoo’s charade was exposed after visitors heard the animal bark.
Tibetan mastiffs do have a lot of hair. But to be honest, they look nothing like lions and it’s impossible to believe a) that anyone thought they could get away with this and b) that it wasn’t until the dog barked that anyone realized they were being duped. Did the mastiff not bound up to edge of the cage as soon as it saw people? Did it, in fact, do anything other than yawn and look disinterested? Because that’s often a major tip-off that a dog is not a cat.