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Chinese zoo faces backlash for shaving and dying dogs to resemble pandas

A zoo in eastern China has shaved dogs and painted them black and white to look like pandas, apparently to boost their visitor numbers on a holiday.

The fake pandas were filmed at the Taizhou Zoo in Jiangsu on after advertising “Xiong Mao Quan” (“panda dogs”), the New York Post reports.

The “panda dogs” were in fact Chinese Chow Chows, a breed known as a solidly built dog, square in profile, with a broad skull and small, triangular and erect ears.

The breed is known for a very dense double coat, which can be either smooth or coarse.

To create the illusion of pandas, the zoo staff shaved the dogs’ fur and dyed them black and white. The dyed dogs were seen daily from 08:00 to 17:00 at the zoo. However, visitors were outraged when they realized the animals were dogs.

Accusations of animal abuse about ‘pandas’

The zoo has been accused of animal abuse and deception, Strait Times reports.

The zoo staff tried to justify their decision, saying that the dye used on the dogs was non-toxic and harmless to animals.

Consequently, a spokesperson for the zoo told the New York Post that if people can dye their hair, so can animals.

A Chinese Chow Chow. Picture: iStock

Another staff member said that due to the zoo’s size, they cannot accommodate real giant pandas. “In this way, we can add a fun activity to the zoo and boost visitor numbers,” he told Jiangsu News.

A notice posted outside the kennel apparently stated that panda dogs are not an official dog breed.

“They are regular pet dogs that have been groomed to look like pandas. These dogs typically have white fur with distinctive black markings around their eyes and ears. It reflects the iconic features of pandas.”

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