The zoo didn't come clean until a visitor saw through the hoax
We’ve heard the saying “you’re as big as you feel,” but unfortunately for one Chinese Zoo, all the confidence in the world can’t actually turn a dog into a lion. The zoo in Henan province had reportedly sent away the resident lion to a breeding center, but of course, the eager visitors had to be entertained somehow. Do you see where this is going already?
There was a creature in the lion’s cage and apparently, it was sufficiently furry. But when a mother took her son to the Louhe city zoo and took the boy around to show him all the different sounds the animals made, the “lion” started barking. According to Beijing Youth Daily, via BBC News, t was then that zoo officials revealed that the animal was in fact a Tibetan mastiff, belonging to a zoo employee. The breed is characterised by its thick, shaggy brown coat, so the animal might resemble, at least slightly, a lion.
The visitor, surnamed Liu, was quoted as saying: "The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us. They are trying to disguise dogs as lions."
The chief of the zoo’s animal department, Lui Suya, was quoted as saying that the lion had been taken away to the aforementioned breeding facility and the dog was put in its place for “safety reasons.” The director didn’t specify what kind of safety reasons would necessitate the switch. The park was reportedly caught out performing similar, if not quite as hilarious, switches with other animals. According to the report, there was a white fox in a leopard's den and another dog being passed off as a wolf.