Dogs passed off as pandas : Italian circus ‘disguised’ chow chow puppies as exotic bears

Dogs passed off as pandas : Italian circus 'disguised' chow chow puppies as exotic bears

Dogs passed off as pandas? An Italian Circus owner was arrested and accused of animal abuse in Brescia, Italy, for trying to pass off dogs as pandas, ABC News reported Tuesday. The circus used black paint to disguise the white chow chow puppies, which were imported from Hungary, as “pandas.”

A spokeswoman for the forestry corps, which in Italy deals with many of the offences involving animals, said audience members were encouraged to pay to have their photograph taken with the fake pandas.

“It happened regularly before the start of the show,” she said.

When the circus visited Brescia, near Milan, the fraud was unconvered and forest rangers raided the circus accompanied by vets.

The dogs were actually in good health, although they did have weeping eyes from all the flash photography, the spokeswoman said.

It was decided to leave the dogs with their owners, but on condition that they were no longer used for impersonation.

The dogs were smuggled into the country on false pet passports which said they were six months old. They were believed to be much younger than that and investigations were continuing to decide whether further charges should be brought of fraud and animal cruelty.

The circus might have gained inspiration from the People’s Park Zoo in China, which tried to pass off a dog as a lion last year.