Barking lion gives kids novel lesson at the zoo

By Malcolm Moore in Beijing

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

A zoo in China has substituted dogs for lions and wolves and rats for snakes in what is being seen as a cost-cutting exercise.

With children at home for the school holidays, many families in the eastern Chinese city of Luohe decided to pay a visit to the city's zoo this week. But they were in for a surprise.

"One family surnamed Liu took their 6-year-old son to the zoo in People's Park," reported the local Dahe Daily newspaper.

"On the way, Mrs Liu was teaching her son all the sounds the different animals make. But when they arrived, her son said the lion was barking like a dog."

Inside the enclosure marked "African lion" was a Tibetan mastiff dog. Another dog was in the wolf cage, and some foxes were standing in for the leopards.

Two large rats were scuttling around a glass cage meant for snakes. There was no official explanation for the change of exhibits, but one zookeeper said the lion had been sent away for breeding.

Meanwhile, two crocodiles are at large in Jiangsu province after the botched demolition of a breeding farm.

Six Nile crocodiles escaped when workers descended, in the middle of the night, to demolish the farm on the outskirts of Xuzhou city, claiming that the outbuildings had been erected without permission.

Four of the beasts, each roughly 2.5m long, were recaptured by farm managers.

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