Three-year-old Sofia Walker was standing face to face with a lion at the Wellington Zoo in New Zealand when Malik--who is seven years old, and quite a bit more ferocious than his observer was--suddenly lunged at the toddler through the glass.
"I was brave," Walker said of the incident. Thankfully, she was also protected from Malik by a 33 mm thick pane of glass that can withstand the impact of a sledgehammer. The incident was captured on video by Sofia's mom, Julian, which you can watch here:
Although she moves back slightly after Malik's first lunge, it's clear that Sofia is not phased. In fact, at one point she turns to her mom and asks, "What's he telling me?"
A voice can then be heard off-camera responding, "I think he's telling you to move away."
The Wellington Zoo's Paul Hatton told the New Zealand Herald that Malik is a "grumpy" and "defensive" lion who probably saw Sofia as a trespasser. Nonetheless, Hatton was surprised by little Sofia's bravery.
"There were a couple of moments where she was a little bit surprised, which is fair enough completely, but she didn't seem too bothered," Hatton said. "He's massive, and you sometimes forget how big he is until you see a picture of him right up next to a small child. He's a big character."
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