Zoo visitors in China confused after keepers substitute lion with golden retriever

Footage of the odd swap circulated social media.
Footage of the odd swap circulated social media. Photo credit: Getty Images / TikTok screenshot via SCOL

A zoo in China has attempted to pass off a golden retriever as a lion, much to the confusion of its visitors. 

A video of the dog sitting in the African lion cage at Yuanjiashan Zoo in Xichang, Sichuan has circulated widely on Chinese social media, leading many to question why the swap occurred. 

According to the South China Morning Post, the man behind the video took his son to the zoo last Saturday and was shocked to see the lion substitute. 

"At first we thought we had gone to the wrong place. But after walking around the cage, we realised it is where the lion should be housed," the man, identified only by last name Tang, said in the video.

Tang said the enclosure featured signage explaining the animal was an African lion, but the actual animal inside didn't seem to match up. 

"Is that an African lion? Is it because it hasn't grown up yet? It looks familiar to me," he joked. 

A worker at the zoo informed Tang the lion had been moved to a different enclosure, explaining the animals were going through a reshuffle and staff hadn't gotten around to taking down the lion sign.

Despite this, Tang wasn't able to find lions at any other location within the zoo. In the video he accuses the zoo of advertising and selling tickets on the premise they had lions, adding he doesn't know how to explain the disappointing situation to his son. 

It's not the first time zoos in China have tried to substitute animals with another species.

In 2019, a zoo in Wuhan was criticised for putting a dog in a wolf enclosure. The zoo said their reason for this was because the dog was "more active" than a wolf and therefore could be seen more often by visitors.