A desperate attempt by a lioness to eat a young boy was thwarted by the glass that separated them at a US zoo.

A video of the incident has been uploaded this week on to YouTube by the mother of the boy, named Jack.

"At the zoo in Portland, Oregon the usually lazy lioness, Kya, tries desperately to eat my son through the glass.

"Jack is coincidentally dressed like a baby zebra in his black and white striped hoodie. He is brave though and calls her "kitty kitty."

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"That's my boy," she wrote underneath the clip, which has been viewed more than 150,000 times.

In the video the lioness pounds wildly at the glass, and attempts to pick up the boy in her mouth. Throughout the action Jack is perfectly calm.

The video is reminiscent of a similar encounter at Wellington Zoo, where 3-year-old Sofia meets 7-year-old lion Malik.

- Herald Online staff