Visitors hoping to see an exhibition displaying thousands of “dancing butterflies” in China last weekend were left disappointed after realising they had bought tickets to see plastic butterflies attached to sticks instead.
According to the Chinese news website Global Times, the exhibition, dubbed “Dinosaur and Butterfly”, was held in the the North Yubei Dinosaur and Butterfly Park, located in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The park posted adverts on messaging app WeChat claiming tens of thousands of butterflies from wide and far could land on visitors’ shoulders and fingers.
Photos and videos taken by furious visitors have been trending on the country’s social media platforms, with some including references to the inflatable penguin exhibition at a zoo also in Guangxi earlier this month.
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One video, originally posted by Beijing News and later uploaded on China’s popular video-sharing platform Miaopai, has been viewed more than three million times since Wednesday and drawn over 3,000 comments.
One tourist told Guangxi News he had travelled 100km (62 miles) to see the display, but was left thinking he had been “cheated”.
The butterflies, he said, were “fake, like plastic, and all placed messily around”.
Yulin Beishang Exhibition Service Company, which organised the event, has defended the display, saying, although exaggerated, the advertising was “not fake”.
“Why can’t a plastic butterfly land on your finger?” a member of staff told Guangxi News.
The park’s director said staff had not seen the plastic butterflies when they were delivered to the site, adding: “They’ve been cleared away… If something like this happens again, we will not rent the area to them.”
Users on the popular micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo have called for the authorities to take action against the organisers.
“This is blatantly fraud, why are the authorities not doing anything?” asked one user.
“They should resolutely be punished,” commented another. “What unscrupulous merchants!”
China updated its online advertising regulations in 2016 to protect consumers. Failure to adhere to the new regulations could lead to administrative sanctions and penalties.
However, attractions failing to live up to their promises are nothing new, especially during the approach to Christmas in the UK.
A Lapland-themed park in New Forest was closed down in 2008 after visitors described it as “hell” and a “scam”. The two brothers who ran the attraction were initially found guilty and jailed for misleading customers but their convictions were later quashed after it emerged a juror had been texting during their trial.
In 2014, a Christmas attraction called Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland was forced to close permanently after being criticised as a “waste of money” by some visitors. The organisers said the closure was a result of negative publicity and delays in health and safety checks.