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Chinese zoo replaces lion with dog

The sign on the cage holding the dog reads “African lion.”

associated press

The sign on the cage holding the dog reads “African lion.”

BEIJING — A zoo in the China city of Luohe attempted to pass off a Tibetan mastiff as a lion, state news media reported. The large, aggressive breed has a trademark bushy mane that gives it a lion-like appearance, but its vocalizations are more woof than roar.

The Beijing Youth Daily said Friday the zoo also had a dog in the wolf cage, foxes in the leopard enclosure, and nutrias in the snake den.

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The paper quoted zoo manager Liu Suya denying any attempt at deception, saying the lion had been lent out for breeding and would be back soon. The substitute animals had been drafted because an empty cage would have ‘‘looked bad,’’ Liu said.

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