People outraged as “panda” exhibit at Chinese zoo actually dogs dyed black and white

People outraged as “panda” exhibit at Chinese zoo actually dogs dyed black and white

Some dogs in a Chinese zoo joined the identity revolution and transformed into miniature versions of a vulnerable species at a new exhibit.

Despite the cuteness overload, many visitors of the zoo are outraged that dogs were used as imposters of the rare bear, a species that’s endemic to China.

Keep reading to learn why people are fuming over these dogs who identify as the beloved panda bear!


On May 1, 2024, visitors lined up outside the gates of a zoo in China, excited to see a new attraction.

When the Taizhou Zoo, in Jiangsu province, unveiled the animals, eager crowds gushed over the fuzzy four-legged creatures, with white faces and black spots around their eyes and ears.

The adorable animals looked like miniature pandas, but they weren’t bears at all.

Panda dogs

The Taizhou Zoo’s panda dogs – that in China have become increasingly popular over the past decade – were presented to visitors as part of an attraction that captured a lot of attention.

Zoo officials admitted to dying Chow Chow dogs to resemble the distinctive black-and-white patterns of pandas.

To be clear, the zoo – that has no real pandas – claims this exhibit was not intended to trick visitors into thinking the cute creatures were real bears.

Speaking with the Global Times (through Sky News), a Chinese state media outlet, a worker at the zoo denied trying to deceive the public: “This is just a new display we offer to visitors. We are not charging extra.” The worker continues, “The wording ‘featuring Chow Chow dogs’ is correct and exactly describes what they are, so we are not cheating our visitors.”

And there’s no way a dog can be mistaken for a giant panda. These bears weigh up to 250 pounds and are significantly larger than a Chow Chow, a medium-to-large sized dog native to Northern China, that weighs about 40 to 70 pounds.

‘Stinkin cute’

A video, shared online by Shanghai Post, shows the panda dogs playing in the enclosure, with the same curiosity and interest one would expect from a dog.

The post on X (formerly Twitter) is captioned, “Taizhou Zoo in Jiangsu Province dyed two chow chow puppies black and white and promoted them as so-called ‘panda dogs.'”

Believing the deception was intentional, one user tweets, “Yes, people. The zoo tried to deceive you. But look how stinkin’ CUTE they are!!!!” A second comments on the country’s ingenuity: “The whole ecosystem [in] which China thrives, revolves around something patent.”

‘Shameful act’

Despite the cuteness of the panda pups, the zoo – that claims it used pet-safe dyes to paint the dogs – is drawing international criticism from animal lovers.

One netizen shares her thoughts on X: “This is really a shameful act. Chow Chows can’t say anything about it unfortunately.”

A second offers, “Makes you wonder how all animals are treated there, right? Poor animals.”

Responding to the outrage from animal lovers, the zoo insists the dyes are natural and not harmful to the animals, but many people are accusing the attraction of animal cruelty.

A Chow Chow dog (Shutterstock)

Sky News writes that a zoo spokesperson defended the panda dog exhibit by saying: “People also dye their hair. Natural dye can be used on dogs if they have long fur.” The individual continued, “There are no panda bears at the zoo and we wanted to do this as a result.”


This isn’t the first time a zoo in China has been accused of using imposters.

In 2023, the Hangzhou Zoo was accused of trying to fool people into believing a Malaysian sun bear named Angela, was a man wearing a bad bear suit.

A video, showing Angela standing upright like a human with a saggy bottom –waving at her audience in other clips – went viral and drew a lot of attention to the zoo, that denied using stand-ins.

Turns out sun bears, the smallest bear species, have very human-like behaviors and are just weird.

Before, in 2013, a zoo in the central province of Henan substituted an African lion with a Tibetan Mastiff, a large furry dog that can reach up to 150 lbs.

According to CNN, when a woman and her young son approached the cage, the lion barked.

Do you think this zoo crossed the line of ethical treatment of animals? Please share your thoughts with us and then share this story so we can get the conversation going!

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