This video of Sofia Walker was a fascinating comparison to what Dyrk Daniels captured a while back between a baby and a white Bengal tiger at the Cougar Moutain Zoo in Issaquah, Washington State.
I got to talk to Sofia’s father, Julian, about this unique experience his wife caught on camera at the Wellington Zoo in New Zealand.
Sofia and the lion have been everywhere these past couple of weeks, captivating media outlets around the world with the encounter. The original video, which as of today has just over 2 million views, was captured and uploaded on Wednesday, January 4th in New Zealand (YouTube is located in the U.S. so the time stamp on the upload shows January 3rd).
I am happy with her very grown-up, innocent reaction to the whole thing.
Julian and his wife have two children, Dominic and Sofia – Dominic will turn 2 in September (born within days of my almost 2-year-old daughter) while Sofia will be turning 4 in a few weeks. They have both cats and dogs at home where Sofia is very confident with them. Julian said with comparison, “A lion is a little bigger, LOL”.
The lion in the video below is 8-year-old, Malik. He’s been at the Wellington Zoo for quite a while now. What the media won’t go into detail about is that Malik along with his buddy Zulu involuntarily mauled trainer, Bob Bennett back in 2006, almost killing him.
The Wellington Zoo refused to call it an attack and the lions were more interested in the buckets of food according to the Zoo general manager of operations, Mauritz Basson. “The lions did not attack Bob. They were more interested in the buckets he had in his hand and unfortunately he tripped over a bush and fell and that’s when the lions decided ‘Oh, this is a handy toy'”, says Basson. (Graphic) Video of the attack in the first segment here.
I asked Julian what his thoughts were on the attack on Mr. Bennett and if it changed his perception between the experience Sofia had. He said, “I did not know that (re: attack in ’06) but I am sure that it was just as any animal in captivity. People must remember these are wild animals and the reports from all of the world should never blame the animals. I think zoos do amazing things for the protection of animals and breeding programs. I believe that in 20 years time we won’t be able to see many of these amazing creatures in the wild and the zoos offer a unique experience.”
Unfortunately on this particular day in January, Julian was at work while his wife visited the zoo with Sofia. He was totally bummed about missing it, but a father’s gotta make a living to support the family.
“It wasn’t until my wife came home and showed me the camcorder that I had seen the clip. I decided that it was so good I uploaded it to send back to my family and friends in the UK. It was only then my wife mentioned to send it to the Zoo as they might like to see the Lion’s reaction.”
Continue to page 2 for the video.