Visitors to safari parks know the deal: The animals have learned that cars full of people equal delicious snacks. But as one tourist recently learned while visiting a safari park in his home country of Germany, sometimes the animals are looking for a little more.
Like getting their photograph taken!
As Malte Wöestefeld, a 24-year-old business student, related to TODAY.com, he was cruising slowly through the park with a friend when the incident occurred.
“There was a big horde of zebras in the distance but this one particular zebra was standing on the side of the road. It looked like it was waiting for us,” he said.
Wöestefeld had his window closed, as per the park’s regulation, but rolled it down to pet the animal, who responded by leaning its entire head inside the car.
“I was super-excited and it seemed like it felt comfortable and wanted me to pet it. I wasn’t scared at all; I was just blown away that this wild animal was so cuddly and putting his head next to my face,” he said.
Having interned at a zoo when he was 16, Wöestefeld knew that zebras aren’t always so friendly, and wanted to capture the special moment.
“I realized this is a great chance to make an awesome memory and take a picture,” he said. “It lay its head next to mine and smiled for the camera. As a reward, the zebra got a carrot that I had in my backpack from lunch.”
Wöestefeld first used the funny photo as his profile picture on Facebook, and friends soon encouraged him to post it on Reddit.
“I have a cousin in Australia and a few friends in San Diego, California, that sent me a message saying they saw my picture on Reddit, and I couldn’t believe that it went this far,” he said.
While the Internet’s reaction to the image has been mostly positive, others have called him an “idiot” for posing with a wild animal.
“I have to admit that I didn’t think much about us being in a dangerous situation. I was just super-excited to make a new friend,” he said. “I’m not encouraging people to do the same. I should have closed my window, but I could sense that everything was going to be okay.”
The viral moment proved to be a win-win situation for both Wöestefeld and his striped pal.
“The zebra got a carrot, and I had a great day to talk about.”