Zoo Dyes Chow Chow Dogs to Look like Pandas and Exhibits the Pups as 'Panda Dogs'

The Taizhou Zoo in China decided to introduce the two "panda dogs" after the zoo was denied the privilege of exhibiting giant pandas

<p>Newsflare</p> A "panda dog" at the Taizhou Zoo


A "panda dog" at the Taizhou Zoo

What black and white and painted all over? The new "panda dogs" at a Chinese zoo.

According to Newsflare, the Taizhou Zoo in China's Jiangsu Province devised a creative solution to its lack of giant pandas. The zoo recently debuted two "panda dogs."

Video footage from early May shows the new arrivals — fluffy creatures with wagging tails and black ears and eye markings on white faces — walking around their zoo habitat,

If the panda dogs look familiar, it's likely because they are Chow Chow pups dyed to resemble pandas. Newsflare reported that local media in China's Jiangsu Province confirmed that the panda dogs are Chow Chow imposters dyed white and black to resemble pandas.

Related: Shock Twist at Columbus Zoo as 'Male' Gorilla Gives Birth to Surprise Baby Girl

Per the outlet, a zoo spokesperson also confirmed that the panda dogs were Chow Chows that the zoo purchased and dyed after the facility was denied the opportunity to house giant pandas.

The spokesperson added that even though news of the panda dogs' true identity has spread, the dyed Chow Chows are still a draw for visitors to the zoo.

<p>Newsflare</p> A painted Chow Chow at the Taizhou Zoo on exhibit as a "panda dog"


A painted Chow Chow at the Taizhou Zoo on exhibit as a "panda dog"

According to NBC News, a zoo official told the outlet that the panda dogs are still on exhibit as of May 10. The outlet also reported that the zoo had responded to criticism about its choice to dye the dogs, telling Qilu Evening News, "Normal people dye their hair. Dogs can dye their hair, too."

Chow Chows are the "all-purpose dog of ancient China," according to the American Kennel Club. The breed is known for its fluffy, compact, and muscular body. While Chow Chows aren't naturally born with panda markings, they are known to have "rough or smooth coats of red, black, blue, cinnamon, or cream," per the AKC.

Related: Pandas Are Returning to the San Diego Zoo! Meet the 'Gentle' Bears Moving to California

Taizhou Zoo's decision to change the appearance of the Chow Chow dogs may be attracting some visitors, but the plan has detractors, too.

"This is something that's kind of being forced on the animal for the sake of human entertainment," Ron Magill, director of communications at Zoo Miami, told TODAY on May 10, adding, "Zoos are there to inspire ... or to promote conservation. They're not there to promote painting domestic animals with colors to represent wild animals."

<p>Newsflare</p> Two "panda dogs" at the Taizhou Zoo in China


Two "panda dogs" at the Taizhou Zoo in China

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This is not the first time the appearance of a zoo's animal resident has caused alarm in China. In July 2023, the Hangzhou Zoo in Eastern China had to officially deny claims that one of its sun bears was a human in a bear suit after footage of the animal standing on its hind legs went viral.

"Some people think I stand like a person," the zoo said in a statement written from the bear's perspective, per the Associated Press. "It seems you don't understand me very well.

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