The striking image has been making the rounds on the internet, giving voice to growing frustration with traditional zoo practices that keep animals in small enclosures.
"Love it! cage the people NOT the animals! View animals in THEIR own environment not OURS!" one commenter wrote.
Another quipped: "[T]hese animals are responsible for thousands of deaths over the years, but the cats don't even seem frightened of them."
In all seriousness, though, many complicated issues about captivity and conservation arise just from a little thought about this image. "This appears to present a positive change away from the traditional arrangement of animals in cages being surrounded by visitors," Chris Draper, programs manager at Born Free Foundation, told The Dodo. "However, is the lion enclosure any bigger or better than in any other zoo or wildlife park? This set-up might improve the view of the cats for the visitors, but the benefits to the lions are unclear. Does this experience turn visitors into passionate conservationists, or is it just a cheap thrill? Fundamentally, this is a captive facility and these lions will never be released to the wild: They deserve the very best in terms of animal welfare, but let's not lose sight of the need to focus on keeping big cats where they belong - in the wild."