An African lion on display at The People’s Park of Luohe Zoo came under suspicion when it started barking…

 Fluffy? Yes. Lion? No.: (Photo by faungg's photo /Creative Commons via Flickr)Fluffy? Yes. Lion? No.: (Photo by faungg's photo /Creative Commons via Flickr)

It turns out that the “lion” was actually a Tibetan mastiff, but to be fair, these dogs are huge and furry. No one could tell the difference between a really big dog and a lion, right? *sigh*

Seriously, zoo guests were tipped off that someone was lying about the “lion” when the king of the jungle started barking at something. This isn’t the zoo’s only subpar substitution at the zoo; a white fox lives in an enclosure intended for a leopard, a pair of nutria are staying in a snake’s cage and a domestic dog is taking residence in a former wolf den.

 "I could take down a zebra. I just don't feel like it right now.": (Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider /Creative Commons via Flickr)"I could take down a zebra. I just don't feel like it right now.": (Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider /Creative Commons via Flickr)

The zoo’s patrons have complained about being ripped off (about 15 yuan/$2.45) to see these “exotic” animals, but zoo caretakers claim that the wolf was “somewhere else in the pen,” the real lion was temporarily at a breeding facility and that the mastiff was owned by a zoo employee.

Tibetan mastiffs are massive dogs that stand between 25 and 28 inches tall, with healthy adults weighing in at around 140 to 170 pounds. Although the ancient breed really does originate from Tibet, they are not true mastiffs. These massive dogs serve as guard dogs and livestock guardians who protect their masters, as well as its master’s yaks and sheep, from wolves and snow leopards.

The Tibetan mastiff is NOT an African lion, but could be just as scary!: (Photo by Schep_B/Creative Commons via Flickr)The Tibetan mastiff is NOT an African lion, but could be just as scary!: (Photo by Schep_B/Creative Commons via Flickr)

To be fair to The People’s Park of Luohe Zoo, it was Marco Polo who once described the Tibetan mastiff as "…tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion.", and I’d still scream like a little girl if either one decided to chase me down!

Sources: Yahoo! News, io9, TibetanMastiff.org, DogBreedInfo.org

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