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01/10/2012 12:49 pm ET

Sofia Walker, 3-Year-Old New Zealand Girl, Faces Off With Zoo Lion (VIDEO)

A toddler from New Zealand may be the youngest lion tamer you will ever see. Sofia Walker, 3, was with her family at the Wellington Zoo recently when she had a startling encounter with a male lion.

Walker approached the lion's viewing platform as it was eating breakfast, prompting a strong reaction from the animal, reported The Dominion Post. Fortunately for the girl, the glass was over an inch thick and glued with resin.

Despite the lion's sudden lunge and attempt to paw at her, the young girl stayed close to the glass. The Telegraph reports her father, Julian Walker, said, "I was surprised that my wife still held the camera steady rather than, you know, obviously lunging to get Sofia, but I think we knew that she was quite safe."

According to the video, eight-year-old Malik has interacted with visitors in the past. A zookeeper told ITN, it was "probably the second time I'd seen him engaging with the visitors, through the glass, but sometimes when we're working with him he can get a little bit stroppy."

African lions are currently listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Experts suspect that wild lion populations have decreased by 30 percent in the past two decades.

If cute animals are more your thing, check out this video of two lion cubs playing with a dog in South Africa.

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