Pro tip: Never turn your back on a lion, even in a zoo.
The video shows a young boy in a bright yellow raincoat looking from behind a glass wall into the lion enclosure. At first, the standing boy and the sitting lion are simply checking each other out through the glass.
Then, as the toddler turns his back, the sitting lion springs into action, bounding toward the kid and slamming into the glass wall.
Though the toddler wobbles a bit and instinctively raises his arms to protect himself, the little guy seems unfazed by the encounter.
According NTV News24, zookeepers say the lion, which is named Allen-kun and weighs more than 400 pounds, just wanted to play. His attendants say he has a habit of frolicking when he see small children.
The zoo reportedly set up the glass display specifically for the lion enclosure in April. Though many news outlets described the encounter as friendly, some experts disagreed.
“Lions are natural wild predators, and the child in this video, especially when turning his back to the massive feline, becomes prey in the animal’s eyes,” Adam Roberts, chief executive of animal-welfare nonprofit Born Free, told The Dodo, a blog for animal lovers.
“The firm glass wall held the lion inside his enclosure, surely frustrating his innate instincts. But luckily for the family—if the barrier had not held, the consequences could have been catastrophic.”
Between this strange event, the killing of Harambe the gorilla, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s encounter with an elephant, it’s been a weird few weeks for animal news.