PICTURES AND VIDEO

China zoo closes after 'African lion' fraud exposed

A Tibetan mastiff looks out from a cage near a sign which reads African lion in Luohe zoo in Luohe in central China's Henan province on Monday, Aug 12, 2013. A Chinese zoo ridiculed for disguising a dog as a lion has shut down temporarily for rectifi
A Tibetan mastiff looks out from a cage near a sign which reads African lion in Luohe zoo in Luohe in central China's Henan province on Monday, Aug 12, 2013. A Chinese zoo ridiculed for disguising a dog as a lion has shut down temporarily for rectification, media reported on Friday, Aug 16, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A Tibetan mastiff looks out from a cage near a sign which reads African lion in Luohe zoo in Luohe in central China's Henan province on Monday, Aug 12, 2013. A Chinese zoo ridiculed for disguising a dog as a lion has shut down temporarily for rectifi
A Tibetan mastiff looks out from a cage near a sign which reads African lion in Luohe zoo in Luohe in central China's Henan province on Monday, Aug 12, 2013. A Chinese zoo ridiculed for disguising a dog as a lion has shut down temporarily for rectification, media reported on Friday, Aug 16, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese zoo ridiculed for disguising a dog as a lion has shut down temporarily for "rectification", media reported on 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.