A zoo in Luohe City, Henan Province, has been bombarded with complaints after visitors only saw dogs and other common animals, a newspaper reported.
This undated photo shows that a Tibetan Mastiff is shown to visitors in the Lion Cages at a zoo in Luohe City, central China's Henan Province.
Adults were charged 15 yuan (US$2.45) for a ticket but found the zoo's cages only featured Tibetan mastiff dogs, rats and fox-like animals, Orient Today reported yesterday.
Visitors were expecting to see lions, wolves, leopards, snakes and other animals.
"The zoo is absolutely cheating us," one woman was quoted as saying. "They are trying to disguise the dogs as lions."
The woman also told the newspaper she wanted to teach her son about how wolves howl, but her son called her a liar because they only heard a dog barking.
An employee was cited as saying the lions had been sent to another zoo to mate while a different employee said the dogs had been raised with wolves.
The city's development and reform commission said the zoo had never received approval to charge fees, according to the report.
An investigation will be carried out, Orient Today said.
The report said the zoo had been contracted to Yu Hua for years and that it earned about 100,000 yuan annually.
Yu only said the zoo earned just enough to cover salaries. He added People's Park, where the zoo is located, provided an additional seven workers to help feed the animals and do other jobs.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued a circular in 2010 banning privately run zoos, but it did not specify penalties.