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Chinese zoos are depressing places—an ostrich was bitten and killed by a patron at one; some people pelted lions with snowballs at another; a third, in Shenzen, saw around ten of its crocodiles die from people throwing things into their pen. With these horrors in mind, take a trip to the People's Park of Luohe, where authorities tried to pass a Tibetan mastiff off as an African lion.

"A Chinese zoo's supposed 'African lion' was exposed as a fraud when the dog used as a substitute started barking," reports the AFP. Which is a little suspect because ... c'mon. Anyone with some semblance of eyesight and even a basic sense of what a lion looks like knows that a Tibetan mastiff, cute and furry as it may be, does not even remotely look like one of the most majestic animals on Earth.

Nor was this the only hijinks perpetrated by the dimwitted zoologists. According to the South China Morning Post, there were other impostor animals: for example, "fox-like" animals in a leopard exhibition. And the People's Daily (translated by The Verge's Amar Toor) explained there were rats in a snake pen, yet no actual snakes visible. Another dog was in the wolf pen, the AFP reports.

"To use a dog to impersonate a lion is definitely an insult to tourists," a visitor told the Oriental Daily, perhaps stating the obvious. Humor-laced backlash has spread to Chinese social media outlets like Weibo. "People would want to know what they could think of next ... An eggplant disguised as a sea cucumber?" someone joked

Defiant zoo officials insist this was all a misunderstanding. "The wolves are there ... the wolf is somewhere else in the pen and the dog is a pet. The African lions will be back. They went to another zoo to breed," a zoo administrator said. Many, however, remain skeptical. Beijing Cream blogger Anthony Tao, for one, tried to rationalize the zoo's actions, asking if it was a political statement, trolling or a deep look into how we all treat our pets — before settling on "just plain idiocy." Sounds logical to us. 


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