An Oregon Zoo lioness recently thought she hit the snack jackpot when she saw a baby wearing a zebra-striped hoodie. What ensued — thankfully G-rated — was captured on video and has since gone viral, turning the unlikely pair into Internet stars.
According to the Huffington Post, the episode began when a family from Bend, Ore., decided to take their 1-year-old son, Jack, to the zoo. They dressed him in a comfy black-and-white striped hoodie and off they went.
While in front of the lion enclosure, Jack got down to get a closer look. An African lioness named Kya noticed the stripes and must have thought, "Oh goodie! A tiny zebra for dinner!"
As the video shows, the female lion then tries to paw the young boy. She lunges at him. At one point, she even tries to open her mouth wide enough to swallow what to her must have seemed like the perfect bite-sized zebra hors d'oeuvre.
A thick glass wall partition between the two prevented a major disaster.
"It was Jack's first trip to the zoo. We didn't even realize he looked like a zebra until we got home, but a lot of the animals in the zoo — the crocodiles and the jaguars — apparently did. They would come up to the glass and look at him," Jack's mom, Heather Baltzor, told the Huffington Post.
Oregon Zoo Director Kim Smith told KGW.com that it is not uncommon for the lions to interact with small children.
"She's using a typical prey behavior," Smith said.
The Baltzor family plans to visit the San Diego Zoo this summer. When asked if Jack would wear the same hoodie, Baltzor said, "I think he definitely should."
Note that Jack was not at all traumatized by the experience. He even said, "Hi kitty, kitty," to the lioness and looks forward to his next zoo trip. Maybe he'll be a future Animal Planet expert when he grows up?
Note another child who had a similar encounter with a lion. Here, Jorge Ribas explains: