BEIJING (AFP) – A Chinese zoo ridiculed for passing off a shaggy dog as a lion has shut down temporarily for "rectification", media reported Friday.
The zoo's supposed "African lion" was exposed as a fraud when the dog used as a substitute -- a Tibetan Mastiff -- started barking, the state-run Beijing Youth Daily had reported earlier.
The zoo, in central China's Henan province, has "altered several misnamed animal signs," the Beijing Times reported, adding that zoo officials have issued a public apology and "closed for rectification".
Three other species housed incorrectly in the zoo reportedly included: two coypu rodents in a snake's cage, a white fox in a leopard's den, and another dog in a wolf pen.
A photograph of a dog sitting in a cage in front of a sign reading "African lion" drew ridicule on Chinese social media services, with one user saying: "They should at least use a husky to pretend to be a wolf".
The Tibetan Mastiff is a large and hairy dog breed.
Authorities in the park in the city of Luohe, where the zoo was located, said that the facility had been contracted out to a private zookeeper since 1998.