Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A pet café in China where the owner has dyed dogs to look like pandas is drawing controversy.
The Chinese "panda" café in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, features dogs of the Chow Chow breed, the BBC reported.
The dogs' fur has been dyed black and white to resemble giant panda cubs, according to Chengdu Economic Daily.
The café opened recently. Local television footage showed six animals that resemble the endangered species.
The café's owner, identified by his surname Huang, has downplayed the issue of dyeing the fur of the animals.
On Chinese social media, commenters said the practice of dyeing dog fur is harmful to the animals, CNN reported Wednesday.
"While they look adorable, dyeing the pets this way can easily hurt them," said one commenter online.
"Why did he have to treat the dogs like that?" said another commenter, according to CNN.
Huang told local media the café also provides pet dyeing services.
"Every time we dye it costs [$211]," Huang said. "The dye is really expensive."
Huang told Hongxing News the dye is imported from Japan and that he has hired "special staff" to dye dogs.
Veterinarians in China criticized the practice.
"This could damage their fur and skin," said Li Daibing.
The panda is a protected species in China. The animals are occasionally gifted to foreign countries as part of China's diplomatic initiatives.
In June, China gave two pandas to a Russian zoo, after two years of negotiations. They will be on loan to Moscow for 15 years.