TOURISTS were horrified when the “panda cub” they cuddled for photographs turned out to be an expertly dyed dog.
Amazed locals in the village of Monastir, near the city of Sochi in south-western Russia, called police when they spotted a street trader offering people the black and white bear.
The puppy disguised as a panda cub attracted tourists before police were called[/caption]
The owner was being investigated over claims he used endangered animals as photo props to make money[/caption]
Chow Chows are referred to as Songshi Quan which means puffy lion-dog[/caption]
But officers who were rushed to the scene to rescue the endangered animal found that its owner had pulled off a cunning trick.
The animal was actually a fluffy Chow Chow dog the scammer had dyed with a panda’s markings.
Cops uncovered more lies after apprehending the man, who allegedly had a “lion cub” and a kite bird that he rented out for pictures.
Russian prosecutors previously confirmed they were continuing to investigate the claims and would press charges against the man if he was found to have illegally obtained wild animals.
Eyewitnesses claimed the “tiny panda cub” was being “tortured”, forced to be out in extreme 40C heat.
The poor little dog was described as no more than 30cm (11 inches) in size.
Anton Lopatin, who worked for the local prosecutor’s office at the time, said his team launched an investigation as soon as they heard reports that a panda cub was being used for commercial purposes.
But this street trader was not alone, in Chengdu, south-western China, a ‘panda’ cafe raised eyebrows when it opened to the public.
Chengdu is known as the home of giant pandas and this cafe offered tourists the opportunity to spend time with six ‘panda cubs.’
However, upon closer inspection it became obvious the animals were fluffy dyed Chow Chow dogs.
The owner of the cafe, Mr Huang, previously said that his business even offered locals a dyeing service for their pooches.
He told Hongxing News that he imported his dye from Japan and employed trained specialists to custom colour the animals.
Mr Huang said: “Every time we dye it costs 1,500 yuan [$211; £163].
“The dye is really expensive.”
The cafe owner insisted the products cause no harm in the creation of the ‘pandas’.
However, one vet, Li Daibing, urged people not to dye their pets, saying: “This could damage their fur and skin.”
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a bear native to south-central China. In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from “endangered” to “vulnerable”.
Chow chow dogs also originate from China but from the northern regions where they are referred to as ‘Songshi Quan’.
When translated into English this means: ‘Puffy-lion dog’.
They are one of the few ancient dog breeds left in the world today and are thought to be the inspiration behind the Foo dog – statues often found guarding Buddhist temples.
This comes as people across the globe are shocked to find out their pets are not what they seem.
In Yunnan, a Chinese village, a woman brought home what she believed to be a Tibetan mastiff – but was shocked to discover the pet was a bear.
The family were concerned as their ‘puppy’ grew to over 250 pounds, and began walking on its hind legs.
The adorable creature also had a big appetite, going through a “box of fruits and two buckets of noodles” each day, The Independent reported.
“The more he grew, the more like a bear he looked,” Yun told Chinese Media. “I am a little scared of bears.”
Yun called officials to inspect her dog, and was told she had actually been raising an endangered Asiatic black bear.
Another family made the mistake of buying what they thought was a purebred Husky for their son.
But they were left stunned when the creature turned out to be an Andean fox.
In 2021, Maribel Sotelo, from Peru, revealed she purchased the animal for $13 (£9.50).
The mum told Reuters its behaviour seemed normal at first, but the beast suddenly turned violent as it attacked family members and other animals in the neighbourhood.
She said: “A lady told us that it had eaten three large guinea pigs.”
The animal eventually ran away from the family’s home and was caught by wildlife officials several days later.
Shockingly this happened again, to another unsuspecting pet owner who believed she had rescued a stray dog.
She regularly posts clips of the mutt, called Awilix, along with her two fluffy huskies, Suka and Xena.
In other videos she claims that Awilix is 80 per cent grey wolf, 10 per cent German Shepherd and 10 per cent Malamute.
She frequently warns other prospective dog owners: “Wolfdogs are not meant for the average person. While amazing animals they require special attention, care and training.”
A dog dyed black and white to mimic a panda cub is pictured at Cute Pet Games cafe in Chengdu in China’s southwestern Sichuan province[/caption]
The cafe has triggered a heated online debate over the treatment of the animals and safety of dye[/caption]