Chinese Zoo Dyes Dogs to Look Like Pandas – Another Example of Chinese Fakery


There’s no such thing as a panda dog. There is such a thing as a raccoon dog (the famous tanuki of Japan), but not a panda dog. 

That has not stopped China’s Taizhou Zoo from taking Chow Chow dogs, dyeing them to resemble the iconic black and white bamboo-earing bear, and advertising them to the public as panda dogs.


Social media posts showed Taizhou Zoo unveiled a new exhibition featuring “panda dogs” on 1 May. Visitors were also charged 20 yuan (£2.22) to see the new attraction.

But those who travelled to the zoo in Jiangsu province discovered the animals were actually chow chows – a dog breed known for its thick double coat of fur from northern China – which were dyed to resemble pandas.

According to Chinese state media outlet The Global Times, lawyers said “inevitably the visitors will feel disappointed and deceived upon discovering the truth” about the exhibit.

A zoo worker denied there was any intent to deceive.

But a worker at the zoo denied accusations of false advertising and told the outlet on Monday: “This is just a new display we offer to visitors.

“We are not charging extra. The wording featuring chow chow dogs is correct and exactly describes what they are, so we are not cheating our visitors.”

Even if we choose to be charitable and take the anonymous zoo worker at his/her word, this is part of a larger cultural issue in China, namely that in the People’s Republic fraud permeates almost every aspect of society. Chinese restaurants serve fake food cooked in recovered “gutter oil,” and even Chinese camera girls are often fake.


Why is this the case?

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China seems to thrive on fakes in international trade. Chinese nationals run international credit card fraud networks (although admittedly that is a global problem) and flood the American market with knock-off fake goods.

At least China can point at Egypt and indulge in a little what-about-ism, as Cairo’s International Garden was recently busted for having a donkey painted to look like a zebra.

There seems to be no societal onus on fakery or fraud in China. Note that many of the examples in the videos above – food, drinks, even the fake camera girls – are not aimed solely at tourists or foreign trade. These acts are committed against Chinese people; the food in particular is predominantly bought and consumed by other Chinese citizens, who at some level have to know what they are getting themselves into.

Some years ago, I spent a few days in Shanghai. On our daily commute from the hotel to the factory, we were driven down a road through an industrial district. One morning, our driver pointed to a large factory. “That’s where they make iPhones,” he said. Then he pointed to another big building. “That’s where they make fake iPhones. The same man owns both factories.” I have no way of confirming that, but it wouldn’t surprise me.


On our last day, we finished up around noon and were taken back to our hotel. As I hadn’t yet had a chance to look around much, I took the opportunity to walk down to a nearby train station, which was surrounded by a sort of informal marketplace consisting of a bunch of crude handmade stalls selling everything from cracked iPhones to t-shirts. I bought some t-shirts for my kids and then was offered a “genuine Versace handbag” for my wife. I considered it but figured that if it turned out to be fake, I’d be out 20 bucks, so I passed.

That’s China. It’s a society built on fakes. Fake food, fake consumer goods, even fake girls. It’s like their economy – all fake.