15/08/2013 08:18 BST | Updated 16/08/2013 04:21 BST

Chinese Zoo Sparks Outrage After Disguising Dog As Lion

SEE ALSO: Labradoodle 'Charles The Monarch' Sparks Panic & Police Calls After Being Mistaken For A Lion (VIDEO)

China is under fire over its treatment of animals yet again after shocking images emerged of dogs in a zoo enclosure purporting as lions.

The grim-looking zoo sparked fury after it attempted to pass off fluffy Tibetan mastiff dogs as "African lions" and rats as "snakes."

Unsurprisingly, visitors to the squalid zoo quickly cottoned on to the fact that all was not as it seemed.

Cash-strapped zoo officials have now been forced to apologise and claimed the mix-up occurred because they couldn't afford the real thing.

Tibetan mastiff dogs were passed off as "African lions" at the grim-looking zoo

Angry visitors to the wildlife park in Luohe, Henan province, protested when they found several of the sad-looking animals did not live up to the species names displayed on the dank cages.

"I had my young son with me so I tried to play along and told him it was a special kind of lion.

"But then the dog barked and he knew straight away what it was and that I'd lied to him," said mum Liu Wen.

"How can they tell such dreadful tales and expect to get away with it?" she added incredulously.

This sad-looking creature was supposedly a big cat

Elsewhere in the zoo, visitors found a mongrel dog in the Timber wolf's cage and another pooch posing as a leopard in the big cat enclosure.

Then in the reptile house, keepers had placed two giant sea cucumbers which they were trying to pass off as snakes.

"I don't know how they've got the nerve to try it. They must think we are all stupid," said one visitor.

These 'snakes' were, in fact, rats

A spokesman for the zoo said: "We're doing our best in tough economic times. If anyone is unhappy with our displays we will give back their money."

After the Chinese government banned animal shows, allowing them only on a non-profit basis, many zoos in the country have struggled to make ends meet.

Zoo visitors were expecting to see lions, but instead saw dogs

Two man-eating crocodiles are currently still at large in Jiangsu province after the botched demolition of a breeding farm.

Animal experts have said the species is among the most dangerous of its kind and is responsible for several hundred human deaths every year worldwide.

The two crocodiles, eat more than 2 kilograms of meat daily, are around 2.5 meters long and ferocious, according to the farm manager, who asked to be identified only be his surname, Fan.

"They'll attack people if they feel threatened," said Fan.

"This place is surrounded by cornfields and villages, where people work on the farms and kids play around. The consequences of an attack can be terrible."