A zoo has attempted to pass off a dog as a lion to its visitors in China, in an extraordinary incident being reported by Chinese state media.
Visitors to the zoo have been left angered after the fraudulent act was revealed.
The revelation came after a visitor, surnamed Liu, reported to the state-run Beijing Youth Daily that she had found out the lion at the zoo was really a dog. She had visited the zoo with her son and had gone to the cage marked "African lion." However, they were left stunned when the so-called lion started barking at them.
It has been determined that the fake lion was in fact a Tibetan mastiff - a large, hairy breed of dog. Liu told the Chinese publication: "The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us. They are trying to disguise dogs as lions."
It was later found out that various other animals in the zoo were also fraudulently labeled. One cage labeled as containing wolves also contained a dog, and a so-called leopard also turned out to be a white fox.
A zoo spokesperson has commented that the animals were "substituted" for various reasons, but they would be returned to their rightful places soon, according to CNN.
More specifically the spokesperson explained that the lion and leopard had been switched as they were taken for breeding purposes. However, the zoo spokesperson failed to satisfactorily explain why fake animals replaced those that had been taken out, simply saying that the dog had been placed in the lion's cage "due to safety concerns."
"We're not doing it out of shortage of funds," the spokesperson also insisted.
Here is a video news report into the China zoo incident where officials attempted to pass off a dog as an African lion: