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A Chinese Zoo Tried To Pass Off This Huge, Fluffy Dog As A Lion

There was also a rat in the snake's cage and a fox in the leopard's den.

Posted on August 15, 2013, at 8:57 a.m. ET

The People's Park Zoo in Luohe, Henan, made international headlines Thursday after Chinese newspapers reported the zoo was trying to disguise a dog as an African lion.

Sina Weibo / Via

The "lion" was really a Tibetan mastiff. Visitors reportedly called the zoo's bluff when they heard the animal bark.

ED JONES / Getty Images

A Tibetan mastiff dog at a mastiff show in Baoding, Hebei province, south of Beijing on March 9, 2013.

"The African lions will be back. They went to another zoo to breed," an administrator at the People's Park Zoo explained to the Oriental Daily.

ED JONES / Getty Images

Ticket buyers were outraged. "To use a dog to impersonate a lion is definitely an insult to tourists," a visitor named Sharon Liu told reporters. "The zoo is absolutely cheating us."

ED JONES / Getty Images

Tibetan mastiffs are hugely popular in China, selling for as much as $750,000. Puppies are smuggled in from the Himalayan plateau, despite many veterinarians arguing that the huge dogs are "unsuitable" as household pets in the climate.

ED JONES / Getty Images

Tibetan mastiff puppies!

They're known for being difficult to train, but Tibetan mastiffs are also among the "most reliable guard dogs around."

ED JONES / Getty Images

More mistaken identity at the People's Park Zoo, via users on Sina Weibo:

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.