'Obsessed' lion licks and paws at glass to reach NC toddler, video shows

Video shows lion lick and paw at glass after becoming 'obsessed' with SC toddler

Michael, a rare white lion, paws and licks the glass in an effort to reach 14-month old Josie.
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Michael, a rare white lion, paws and licks the glass in an effort to reach 14-month old Josie.

A Rock Hill mom is getting international attention for a Facebook video that shows a white lion "obsessed" with her child.

Caity Finley posted the video March 10, showing a full-grown male lion pawing at the glass to reach Finely's daughter, Josie.

At one point, the lion licks the glass.

It happened when the mom and her 14-month-old daughter were visiting Tiger World preserve for endangered animals in Rockwell on Saturday, the Observer's news partner WBTV reported.

During their visit, Finley and her boyfriend, Michael Hastings, became fascinated by the lion's attention to her daughter, reported WBTV.

The lion, named Michael, ran over to the glass when her daughter appeared, and immediately focused his attention on her.

"We were very surprised," she told told FOX 46 Charlotte. "The lion was across the enclosure and saw my daughter standing at the glass and ran over and started jumping and scratching, and licked the glass."

When asked whether she was scared of the lion's reaction toward her daughter, Finley told WBTV she thought the encounter was "really cool." "Nothing I have ever seen before," she told WBTV. "He did not do this with any other baby that came up to him!" Finley said. "He would only do it with my daughter. It was a very cool experience and we are going back very soon."

Finley said her daughter, Josie, "loved watching the lion paw at the glass!"

Some viewers saw the video as more frightening than fun.

"This lion was trying to play with his food. They generally do that. I would have run," posted Beck Boatner Ruffer in response to the video.

Michael came to the park in 2015 and is part of a unique breed of white lions native to the Timbavati region of Kruger National Park in South Africa. Only 11 remain in the wild and 500 are in captivity globally, says Tiger World's website.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs