China has barking pandas?

Saqib alii /
Saqib alii /

Zoos across the globe are seen as terrific places to get up-close interactions with wild animals without having to travel to do so. While things like cage bars, breakproof glass, and moats separate most animals from us, other exhibits allow guests to interact with “safer” animals.

Now, the Taizhou Zoo in Jiangsu Province is featuring barking pandas in their panda exhibit.

In place of their traditional panda bears were cut-down Chow Chow dogs. A breed synonymous with Northern China, they are large, and their thick, puffy fur can be dyed easily to resemble a panda at a glance. Sold under tickets reading “Xiong Mao Quan” meaning “panda dogs,” many were outraged to learn that they were not dog-sized pandas, but just dogs made to look like pandas. Not an unheard of tactic in the communist nation, workers also defended the act by asserting that it came at no extra charge.

When the exhibit was put on display like clockwork from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., people flooded the exhibit in anticipation. When asked about the swap, a spokesman said, “There are no panda bears at the zoo, and we wanted to do this as a result…People also dye their hair. Natural dye can be used on dogs if they have long fur.”

Speaking with London’s Metro newspaper, Hsin Ch’en, a pet shop owner in Chengdu, Sichuan seemed amazed at the exhibit. “Ten years ago, the natural instinct of a Chinese person was to eat a dog. Now, we are like Westerners and want one as a companion. The cute breeds like French Bulldogs and Labradors were the favorites, but now it is the panda dog.”