A zoo in China has angered local visitors by trying to pass off a Tibetan Mastiff - a particularly hairy dog - as a lion, Chinese state media has confirmed.
A visitor, surnamed Liu, told the Beijing Youth Daily she discovered the fraud when visiting a zoo in a park in Louhe, a city in the province of Henan.
As they approached a cage marked "African lion," they were shocked to hear the beast inside it bark. It was a Tibetan mastiff, a large, hairy breed of dog.
"The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us," Liu said. "They are trying to disguise dogs as lions."
Other species in the park were similarly mislabeled, the media reported, with another dog in the wolf cage, and a white fox on display in the leopard enclosure.
The head of the park's animal department, Liu Suya, said the animals were substituted for various reasons, and would be back in their rightful place soon.
The lion and leopard had both been removed for breeding, she said, with the Tibetan mastiff placed in the lion's cage temporarily "due to safety concerns."
Similarly, the dog had been placed in the wolf enclosure to breed a hybrid wolf-dog, she said. "We're not doing it out of shortage of funds," she said.
Whatever the explanation, the substitute lion has drawn ridicule on Chinese social media, with one visitor describing the situation as "absurd."
"If this works why would people even bother to go to the zoo!" wrote Guohebaxiaoma.
"Children will cry out 'look a lion came out!' at the sight of Tibetan Mastiff or exclaim 'look it's a rat!' seeing snake on the street... This is totally absurd!"
To put it mildly.