‘Panda dogs’ main attraction at Taizhou Zoo


Close enough: According to reports, the animals are chow chows that have been dyed to look like giant pandas. — The Straits Times/ANN

TWO “panda dogs” have been delighting and perplexing visitors of a zoo in China since a dedicated enclosure opened to the public.

Videos of the animals posted online confused netizens, some of whom mistook them for real pandas, with others asking whether “panda dog” was a real breed.

And while they admitted that the animals looked uncannily similar to giant pandas, certain Internet users thought it was odd that they would shake their heads like dogs.

According to reports, they are chow chow dogs that have been dyed to look like giant pandas.

An information board put up in front of the enclosure at the Taizhou Zoo in Jiangsu province tells visitors that panda dogs are not an actual dog breed.

They are rather pet dogs that have been groomed to look like pandas or that were born with coat patterns similar to pandas.

Such canines will often have a white undercoat with black markings around the eye rims and ears, mimicking the facial features of a giant panda.

One visitor said she drove past the zoo on Friday and just had to visit after seeing cars swarming the zoo’s entrance.

She said: “After entering the zoo, I heard many people asking where the panda was. I just followed the crowd. I only realised they were actually dogs and not pandas after reaching the enclosure.”

Entrance to the panda dog enclosure is included in the zoo’s general entry ticket, which costs an adult 20 yuan (RM13).

A worker at the zoo explained to local news outlet Jiangsu News that the initiative aims to attract more visitors and make the zoo experience more fun.

He added that the zoo has yet to introduce actual pandas as the facility is currently too small and unable to house a giant panda enclosure.

While the attraction was a hit and attracted thousands of visitors over the May Day holiday, some netizens questioned if dyeing the chow chows is cruel.

Taizhou Zoo said that dog fur is similar to human hair and can be dyed harmlessly in the same manner. — The Straits Times/ANN

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