Wellington toddler faces down massive lion

An online video of a brave little girl facing down a massive lion at Wellington Zoo has some people flinching at the lion's reaction.

Malik the lion was tucking into his breakfast of meat when Sofia Walker, 3, hopped onto a viewing platform and pressed her hands and face against the glass enclosure.

In an attempt to scare curious Sofia off her perch, Malik glared, growled and twitched his mane before pouncing on the glass and pawing at it.

"My daughter turns around and says, 'what's he telling me mama', and my wife says, 'he's telling you to get down'," father Julian Walker said.

He uploaded the 45-second clip to YouTube after the January 4 visit to the zoo and it has since received hundreds of views.

His wife Sharon recorded a snippet of the five-minute encounter between daughter and beast on a camcorder.

"[Malik] just felt that my daughter was trying to take his food so that's why he reacted that way. She wasn't scared. She's a very strong and adventurous character," she said.

The 33mm glass is made from three 10mm pieces of glass glued together with resin and is able to tolerate extreme stress.

Walker said his curious daughter, who attends Churton Park Little School, was nonchalant about the ordeal.

"She doesn't seem fazed by the whole thing.

"We've got animals and pets at home so I guess she thought it was a big pet cat but I think he would react differently if she cuddled him."

The family were members of the zoo and frequent it at least once a month.

Malik, who will turn eight in April, was Sofia's second favourite animal following the giraffes, Walker said.

A record number of people visited the zoo last year with more than 200,000 walking through the gates.

The Dominion Post