A “panda dog” zoo exhibit in China displays food painted in black and white, sparking controversy

A zoo in China has received mixed reactions for dying off dog fur to look like pandas in a new exhibit.

The Taizhou Zoo in Jiangsu, China, painted two chow chow dogs and advertised them as “panda dogs” in the exhibit that opened on May 1.

A zoo spokesman told Chinese state media that the zoo lacked the necessary qualifications to acquire real pandas, a bear species endemic to China, and settled on a captivating alternative. Officials got the idea from the Internet.

While some people may have found themselves intrigued by the exhibition, others criticized the act all together.

Officials say the dogs were not harmed

State media reported that the zoo faced backlash from those who accused officials of misleading visitors and mistreating the dogs.

One comment on the Chinese social media platform Weibo said that this practice is not funny because the dog’s fragile skin and naturally thick coats make them more susceptible to skin diseases. However, zoo officials denied claims that the dogs were being harmed, with a spokesperson comparing it to the way people dye their hair, according to the Verge. NBC News.

A Qilu spokesperson told Evening News: “Dogs can dye their hair too. It’s the same hair.”

Pet-safe semi-permanent dyes are sold to dye pets safely, and often come in gel or liquid form, according to Hills Pet Nutrition.

The dogs remain part of the exhibit and are visited by a steady number of guests at a “normal level,” NBC News reported.

Bears at a different zoo in China have been accused of being scammers of humans

Panda dogs are not the first time there has been controversy over a fake animal in a zoo in China.

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In July, the Hangzhou Zoo in Zhejiang Province faced rumors that some of the bears were human impostors. But officials strongly denied these theories, which spread thanks to photos and videos showing the Malaysian sun bear standing on its hind legs.

Two sun bears interact in their enclosure at the Hangzhou Zoo in the city of Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province on August 1, 2023. The Chinese zoo was forced to deny that its sun bear is actually a human wearing a costume, after footage showed one of them standing on the stubs of its hind legs. Online accusations of a furry imposter.  (Photo by AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images) Original file ID: AFP_33QG42H.jpg

In a statement written from Angela the Bear’s point of view, zoo officials said She and her zoo companions denied the bears They were human scammers. A post on the zoo’s website includes, “I’m working hard, but someone suspects I’m looking for a replacement?” The post was written in Chinese and translated into English via Google.

“Let me stress again: I am a sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! It is a sun bear!” The statement said.

Contributor: Nathalie Nyssa Alund

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: A zoo in China has been harshly criticized for its “panda dog” exhibit, which includes painted dogs

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