Chinese zoo defends dyeing dogs black and white to look like pandas

The zoo denies it is ‘cheating visitors’ by displaying dogs painted in black and white as pandas

Tom Watling
Friday 10 May 2024 10:36 BST
Chinese zoo that is not allowed pandas paints chow chow dogs black-and-white

A Chinese zoo has been accused of charging customers money to see “pandas” that are actually just dogs painted black and white.

Taizhou Zoo, in the eastern Chinese coastal province of Jiangsu, unveiled a new exhibition featuring “panda dogs” at the start of May. Visitors were charged 20 yuan (£2.22) to see the new attraction.

But those who travelled to the zoo claimed the animals were actually chow chows, a dog breed known for its thick double coat of fur from northern China, and said the dogs had been dyed black and white to resemble pandas.

According to Chinese state media outlet The Global Times, lawyers said “inevitably the visitors will feel disappointed and deceived upon discovering the truth” about the exhibit.

The small “pandas” are actually dyed chow chow dogs
The small “pandas” are actually dyed chow chow dogs (ViralPress)

A worker at the zoo denied accusations of false advertising, telling the outlet: “This is just a new display we offer to visitors.

“We are not charging extra. The wording featuring chow chow dogs is correct and exactly describes what they are, so we are not cheating our visitors.”

A zoo spokesperson also defended the panda exhibit, adding: “People also dye their hair. Natural dye can be used on dogs if they have long fur. There are no panda bears at the zoo and we wanted to do this as a result.”

It is not the first time a Chinese zoo appears to have tried to fool visitors with this trick.

This is what a real panda cub looks like
This is what a real panda cub looks like (AP )

In 2010, in the neighbouring province of Henan, a park in the city of Zhengzhou bought four dyed chow chows and a golden retriever, dyed to resemble a tiger, from a pet market in Sichuan as an attempt to attract visitors, according to a report from Reuters.

And last year, Hangzhou Zoo, south of Jiangsu, was forced to deny claims some of its bears were people in costumes.

It came after a clip of a Malaysian sun bear - named Angela - walking on its hind legs went viral in July and sparked speculation that the animal was a human being in a badly-fitting bear suit.

A member of the zoo’s staff said at the time: “Our zoo is government-run, so that kind of situation would not happen.

“The temperature in the summer is nearly 40 degrees, if you put on a fur suit, you certainly couldn’t last more than a few minutes without lying down.”

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