A man, photographer, dyed his Chow Chow pup balck and white to make him look like a panda for pictures with tourists is being investigated by the Russian police.
Upset locals called police when they spotted the street trader offering tourists the chance to have their photo taken with what appeared to be a panda cub.
However, when officers arrived at the scene to rescue the endangered animal they realized it was in fact just a dog dyed black and white.
The photographer was stopped at the entrance to the village of Monastir in the south-western Russian city of Sochi.
He is also supposed to have a lion cub and a kite bird that he rents out for pictures.
Russian prosecutors have confirmed they are continuing to investigate into the lion and kite claims and will press charges against the man if he is found to have illegally obtained wild animals.
Eyewitnesses had previously claimed that the ‘tiny panda cub’ was no more than 30cm (11 inches) and was ‘tortured’ by being out in 40-degree Celsius heat.
Anton Lopatin, who works for the local prosecution office, said that as soon as he and colleagues heard claims that a panda cub was being used for commercial purposes, they began an investigation.
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a bear native to south-central China. In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’.