Shocked local residents in the village of Monastir, near the city of Sochi in south-western Russia, called the police when they spotted a street trader offering people the black and white bear.
But officers who were rushed to the scene to rescue the endangered animal found that its owner had pulled off a cunning trick.
The animal was actually a fluffy Chow Chow dog the scammer had dyed with a panda’s markings.
Cops uncovered more lies after apprehending the man, who allegedly had a “lion cub” and a kite bird that he rented out for pictures.
Russian prosecutors previously confirmed they were continuing to investigate the claims and would press charges against the man if he was found to have illegally obtained wild animals.
Eyewitnesses claimed the “tiny panda cub” was being “tortured” as it was forced to be out in extreme 40C heat.
The poor little dog was described as no more than 30cm (11 inches) in size.
Anton Lopatin, who worked for the local prosecutor’s office at the time, said his team launched an investigation as soon as they heard reports that a panda cub was being used for commercial purposes.
But this street trader was not alone, in Chengdu, south-western China, a “panda ” cafe raised eyebrows when it opened to the public.
Chengdu is known as the home of giant pandas and this cafe offered tourists the opportunity to spend time with six “panda cubs”.
However, upon closer inspection, it became obvious the animals were dyed Chow Chow dogs.
The owner of the cafe, Mr Huang, previously said that his business even offered locals a dyeing service for their pooches.
He told Hongxing News that he imported his dye from Japan and employed trained specialists to custom colour the animals.
Huang said: “Every time we dye it costs 1,500 yuan [$211; £163].
“The dye is really expensive.”
The cafe owner insisted the products cause no harm in the creation of the ‘pandas’.
However, one vet, Li Daibing, urged people not to dye their pets, saying: “This could damage their fur and skin.”
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a bear native to south-central China.
In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from “endangered” to “vulnerable”.
Chow chow dogs also originate from China but from the northern regions where they are referred to as “Songshi Quan” – or “puffy lion dog”.
They are one of the few ancient dog breeds left in the world today and are thought to be the inspiration behind the Foo dog – statues often found guarding Buddhist temples.
This comes as people across the globe are shocked to find out their pets are not what they seem.
In Yunnan, a Chinese village, a woman brought home what she believed to be a Tibetan mastiff – but was shocked to discover the pet was a bear.
The family were concerned as their ‘puppy’ grew to over 250 pounds, and began walking on its hind legs.
The adorable creature also had a big appetite, going through a “box of fruits and two buckets of noodles” each day, The Independent reported.
“The more he grew, the more like a bear he looked,” Yun told Chinese Media. “I am a little scared of bears.”
Yun called officials to inspect her dog, and was told she had actually been raising an endangered Asiatic black bear.
Another family made the mistake of buying what they thought was a purebred Husky for their son.
But they were left stunned when the creature turned out to be an Andean fox.
Shockingly this happened again, to another unsuspecting pet owner who believed she had rescued a stray dog.
She regularly posts clips of the mutt, called Awilix, along with her two fluffy huskies, Suka and Xena.