- Video shows young New Zealand girl facing off with a large lion called Malik
- The big cat glares and growls at the young girl just inches away from her face
- Zoo keeper: Malik is a huge and 'dark-natured' lion who is 'quite stroppy'
It's normally a story of man versus beast -- but in this case the man is a three-year-old girl, and her wild encounter is thrilling online viewers around the world.
The video shows young New Zealander Sofia Walker facing off with a large lion on a viewing platform while visiting the Wellington Zoo with her family last week.
Malik the lion had just been given his breakfast when he noticed Sofia pressing up against the viewing glass.
The big cat then twitches, glares and growls at the young girl just inches away from her face, before abruptly standing up on its hind legs and violently pawing the separating glass.
Giggling, she asks her mother what the lion is trying to tell her.
"I think he's telling you to move away, Sofia. He wants to eat his food," her mother replies. Instead she continues the face-off, only to see Malik again attack the glass.
"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," Wellington Zoo team leader of carnivores and primates Paul Hatton told the New Zealand Herald.
He added that Malik was a "dark-natured" lion who was "quite stroppy."
Sofia's father wasn't completely sure why the incident took place, but was prepared to offer two explanations.
"Maybe the lion felt threatened that Sofia would try and take his breakfast. Or maybe he preferred to eat her," he said.
The video is being showcased in online media around the world, including CBS, The Telegraph, the New York Daily News, and The Sydney Morning Herald.