Girl meets lion video roars around the world
A Wellington toddler's extreme close-encounter with a massive lion has captivated audiences around the world.
Bloggers and news sites have compared the video of three-year-old Sofia Walker facing down the giant cat to a modern-day Narnia, praising the little girl for her courage.
The footage shows the toddler facing down Wellington's Zoo's male lion Malik, as he paws at thick glass to try to scare her away from his food.
Sofia, unfazed, continues to stand on the viewing platform throughout the performance, only pausing to ask her mother a question.
"What's he telling me mama", Sofia asks. Her mother replies "He's telling you to get down."
The video, posted on January 4, has since gone around the world. It has run on the Daily Mail, Huffington Post, The Telegraph, The Sun, and the New York Daily News, among others.
Sofia's father Julian Walker said the latest email he'd received was from the Ellen DeGeneres show, who wanted to use the clip.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Walker said.
"I think if you search now you'll find 57 news sites that have the video. We've had emails from Germany, Sweden, and the US are just picking up on it now."
Walker said the family had been surprised at some of the negative feedback, both about the zoo and his daughter, but were trying to ignore it.
"There's also been some really lovely comments, the ones saying it's a scene reminiscent of Lucy and Aslan from Narnia."
Sofia, meanwhile, remains unfazed. Walker said she doesn't really understand what's going on, although he cut out some newspaper articles to show her.
"She just says 'oh look that's me in the paper' but she doesn't really get it."
"I guess that's why it was so popular, she was just so unaware. It would have been totally different if she was banging on the glass but she was just standing there."
Since the original story ran on the Stuff.co.nz and Dominion Post websites, the video has received more than 95,000 hits.
Prior to that, it had only 300 views.
Walker said he's grateful the video has helped Wellington Zoo get publicity.
The family have an annual membership, which has been renewed as a thank you.