In the realm of how dumb can you get, the People’s Park Zoo in Luohe, Henan Province,China takes first prize in thinking it could pass a Tibetan mastiff off as an African lion.
According to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily, the fraud was " was exposed when the dog started barking,” Further investigation also found a white fox in a cage labelled “leopard,” a mongrel as a timber wolf and two coypu (aka nutria or river rats) being “passed-off” as snakes.
"The zoo is absolutely cheating us," the paper quoted a woman named Liu, who had come to the zoo with her son, and was charged 15 yuan ($2.45) for the ticket.
While one report stated that zoo officials claim they used the dogs as substitutes for the big cats was because they “couldn’t afford the real thing,” Liu Suya, chief of the park's animal department, told the paper that, “although they really do have a lion, it had been taken to a breeding facility and the dog ( which belonged to one of the workers there) had been temporarily housed in the zoo over safety concerns.”
The zoo, which had been contracted out to a private keeper since 1998, has now been closed by authorities for “rectification” and a public apology issued.