A terrifying encounter between a 180kg lion and a two-year-old toddler at a zoo in Chiba, Japan, was captured on video and posted online over the weekend.
In the video, the boy who was reported to be visiting the zoo with his family, was staring at the lion through a glass panel, until he broke eye contact and turned his back on the big cat.
The lion, which was crouching on all fours in the background suddenly leapt into the air towards the boy. Its approach was halted by a glass panel that divided the animal from its audience.
The audible crash startled the boy, who momentarily lost his balance from the ledge he was standing on and quickly turned to find the lion pawing at the glass panel. He continued to rub his head in confusion while watching the lion warily until it stopped its advances.
Since the video went viral, netizens have started weighing in on whether the lion was trying to attack or play.
According to The Metro, zookeepers at the Chiba Zoological Park have come out to say that the lion meant no harm and only wanted to play with the toddler.
However, Adam Roberts, the chief executive of Born Free USA, a non-profit national animal advocacy group, disagreed, telling The Dodo that it was a blessing that the glass divider held up against the lion's attack.
"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," said Roberts. "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."
This incident comes just weeks after the Cincinnati Zoo controversy, where a gorilla was fatally shot when a boy fell into its enclosure.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.