Wellington lion girl ‘fearless’, says dad
Mon, 09 Jan 2012 6:00p.m.
By Emma Jolliff
A three-year-old Wellington girl cannot understand what all the fuss is about - after a lion tried to rip her to shreds at the zoo.
They came face-to-face through a wall of protective glass and the lion’s aggressive reaction was enough to make most flinch.
But Sofia Walker didn't.
Sofia likes to get up close to the animals at Wellington Zoo. So much so that she didn't flinch when eight-year-old lion Malik lunged at her through the glass.
According to her dad, Julian, Sofia's fearless.
Malik's food had been placed next to the glass and her dad thinks this may have triggered a reaction.
“Maybe it felt threatened that Sofia might try and take [the food] or that he preferred to eat her,” says Mr Walker.
The zoo's carnivore manager, Paul Horton, says Malik can be a bit moody.
“That's probably the second time I've seen him engaging with the visitors through the glass, but sometimes when we're working with him he can get a little bit stroppy.”
Mr Walker says his daughter and wife remained surprisingly calm through the interaction.
“I was surprised my wife still held the camera steady rather than lunging to get Sofia, but she obviously knew she was quite safe.”
Sofia was safe behind three centimetres of resin-bonded glass.
Mr Horton says the video made him really appreciate the animal's size.
“Working with something every day, then you see a close up like that where there's a big, fully-grown male lion next to a small person - he's big.”
But the family hadn't noticed the irony in the name of the street they live in: Mauldeth Place.
The zoo is one of Sofia's favourite places, and the close encounter has not deterred her from visiting.
She is even looking forward to celebrating her fourth birthday at the zoo next month.
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12/01/2012 1:04:06 p.m.
Hey janet deardon, just like to point out that the ellen show has picked up on this story and so have a few others. told all it was a publicity stunt. If you ever bother to watch a couple of america's funniest home videos ( which a lot aren't) you can see a lot are done to get the $10,000 prize. About the flinching thing, yes she did, but as the father pointed out she has been in front of this lion before and I think I would jump or flinch if the animal which was hugely bigger than me suddenly moved the way he did. I don't think this is a cute story, but it fills in a few minutes on the news when supposedly nothing else is happening in the world. which there is, but the news editors decide what they think we should see and both channels have similar stories. How many countries are there, we dont get much from russia or china or africa unless its about a war or famine. Other things must happen. PUBLICITY STUNT.
12/01/2012 2:06:31 a.m.
....after the "Bumcrack Bandit" story and now this non event. Is it really that slow for news in New Zealand at the moment.
11/01/2012 10:41:12 p.m.
Jim, i agree with alot of what you've said. Animals like this arent supposed to exist for our entertainment. Yes some see this as funny or whatever, but in the end, how would 'we'like to be in a giant fishbowl away from our natural home, yelled at, teased, pushed to react. I feel bad for these animals, but this girl has no idea of what 'we'have done, maybe when shes older she'll become an animal activist... a vet?? We humans have dominated every other species, wiped out many too. So at the Lions expense we all had a gasp and a giggle, are 'we'all proud yet?? Good on u Jim
11/01/2012 1:12:06 p.m.
Uh hello?? i saw her flinch, is everyone that blinded by the ''awwwwwwww she'so cute'' thing that they couldnt see her initial jump...... and its natural to flinch.
ah hang on, its the 'kiwi ,we're hard as bro' mindset as usual.
what i saw as cool was her staying put and not running after the flinch, but yea she flinched lol
11/01/2012 9:05:57 a.m.
"after a lion tried to rip her to shreds at the zoo."
Are you kidding me? Tried to rip her to shreds? It's a cute story (admittedly I can't see why it's headline news), but why try and push the "ripping to shreds" angle. That's ridiculous. And Joe's right, she more than flinched. So, sorry, big fail for this "journalist".
11/01/2012 4:52:12 a.m.
Janet Deardon wrote:
omg...just had enough now,it is a short clip,the little girl is not doing anything wrong,as for the publicity comment,RIDICULOUS! I film my kids,I have film of them at the zoo,film of them in the park etc....should I not?? the lion was not hurt or injured...the little girl was safe,she was just fascinated....no need for all of this....
10/01/2012 4:09:22 p.m.
hey mike so true about the claws, but the media never lets small facts like that to ruin their version of the story. If it was dangerous then it says something about the mother who continued filming, whats the bet it turns up on u tube or on an american tv programme and the family gets interviewed over and over?. Sort of suspect this might of been a publicity stunt from the family to get tv time. Who the hell put its food against the glass which would then make the lion defend its food?, although it might of dragged it there.
10/01/2012 12:28:17 p.m.
Animals will often try to play and the lion was hardly trying to rip the child to shreds.The lion is not stuppid and its not the first time its been to the window of protective glass and it knows it cant get through the glass.Lions have quite long claws - didn't see them extended. Can see the same with a common housecat pawing at windows. Even if the claws were extended it wouldn't mean it was trying to shred anything, as claws on windows make more noise. Pawing at things generally means something would like to get through, even humans knock on doors to anounce they would like the door opened - not so different. Even dangerous animals in the wild often will treat children with care when they might bite the head off an adult. You can also see a similar window senario when people visit prisoners at a high security prison and communicate through the glass, often have the humans 'paw' at the glass in an effort to communicate and an inability to do so due to lost freedom. Lets face it, maximum security prisons look soft vs being stuck in a zoo!
10/01/2012 11:37:10 a.m.
This is hardly breaking news. It's something that could be experienced by any child on a regular outing to the zoo.
10/01/2012 8:52:52 a.m.
dear janet and sharon, what is a zoo? you think those animals like being in there being intimidated and teased by what little innocent children for thier fun and excitement?I am true animal lover, i grew up on a farm and from the hard efforts of my family and i, you would be lucky to find more tame and friendly percentage of a dairy herd anywhere, no i dont agree with intensive dairying but teaching kids its ok to tease wild animals just cause you can is disgusting! those animals are not intelligent like us and i would be amazed if they dont feel scared to death in there!Only reason i said what i said is cause like james said this shouldnt be in the NEWS! Im all for children caring loving and being interested in animals, lets just not teach them to treat them the way previos generations have. that lion was not born into this world to live in a zoo for your amusement.
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