A Tibetan mastiff puppy has been sold in China for almost $2 million. It is reported that a property developer paid 12 million yuan ($1.9M) for the giant (200 lbs.) one-year-old golden mastiff at a pet fair in the eastern province of Zhejiang, which for centuries has been synonymous with luxury and opulence in Chinese culture. In this century, Tibetan mastiffs have become a prized status symbol among China’s wealthy, and are often compared to the nation’s treasured pandas, although it more resembles a lion.
In fact the Tibetan mastiff looks so much like the King of the Jungle that last summer the Luohe City Zoo in the Chinese Central Henan province tried to pass a Tibetan mastiff off to visitors as a lion, while its resident African lion was sent to a breeding center. The private owners of the zoo claimed a tight budget pushed them to display “lower cost options to increase their profit margins.” (Given the pet fair price of the golden mastiff, this is a strange definition of “lower cost option.”) A far cry from the luxurious Zhenjiang, Luohe City is most famous for its pork production. It’s home to Shuanghui, which became the biggest meat processing company in the world after purchasing the American pork company Smithfield Foods in 2013. Shuanghui is planning to list the combined company on the Hong Kong stock market this year, which is likely to be one of the biggest initial public offerings in Asia. The company could use the proceeds to pay down some of the debt it took on to acquire Smithfield, and perhaps throw a few Yuan to the local zoo. Or at least donate some lion lunch.