China society
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Visitors to a zoo in Sichuan province, China, were stunned to find a dog in a harness waiting to greet them on the other side of the lion enclosure. Photo: Handout.

Chinese zoo embarrassed after attempting to pass off golden retriever dog as an African lion

  • Visitors to a zoo in China were shocked to find a golden retriever waiting to greet them in a cage labelled as an African lion enclosure
  • The zoo claimed it was a misunderstanding involving the owner’s pet dog and that there were now lions in the cage

Visitors to a zoo in southwestern China were left shocked and confused when they saw a golden retriever in a cage intended to accommodate an African lion.

In a video clip that circulated widely on social media this week, a man only identified by his surname Tang, took his child to visit Yuanjiashan Zoo in Xichang, Sichuan, on Saturday but was startled when they found a golden retriever in the African lion enclosure, despite signage introducing the animal as a feline.

“At first, we thought we had gone to the wrong place. But after walking around the cage, we realised it is where the lion should be housed,” Tang said in the video.

The cage sign advertising an African lion in the cage. Photo: Handout

“Is that an African lion? Is it because it hasn’t grown up yet? It looks familiar to me,” he joked.

A worker of the zoo told Tang that the cage had housed a lion in the past, however, the animal had been moved to another location, he said.

“We are adjusting the animals’ accommodations, with the lion’s sign not taken down [from the cage] yet,” said the worker in the video.

However, Tang said he did not accept this. He accused the zoo of selling tickets promoting lions. He also said he found no lions anywhere else in the zoo.

“The money for the ticket is a small deal. What matters [to] me more is that I don’t know how to explain the current situation to my kid,” said Tang.

The placid looking golden retriever seen in the video wearing a harness in the lion enclosure. Photo: Handout
It’s not the first time a mainland zoo has tried to substitute animals with other species at their facilities.

Earlier this month, Xiangwushan Zoo of Xianning, Hubei, was exposed for putting a Rottweiler in a wolf’s cage. The zoo’s management said a wolf had lived there before it died because of old age, the Liaoshen Evening News reported.

Two years ago, Jiufengshan Forest Zoo in Wuhan was criticised for deceiving visitors by placing a dog in a wolf’s enclosure.

The zoo claimed there was a wolf there, although not often seen by visitors. The dog was supposedly in the yard so that the wolf wouldn’t get lonely.

“People only saw the dog as the wolf likes to sleep during day time and the dog is more active than the wolf,” the zoo told Jiangxi TV.