LITTLE Noah Moore got more than he bargained for during a trip to Colchester Zoo - getting up close and personal with lion Bailey.

Fear not, however. The four-year-old was the right side of the glass, despite the amazing optical illusion in this photo taken by mum Shanice Church.

With Bailey right in front of them, Shanice snapped away and took lots of pictures of her son looking adoringly at the giant African cat.

But in this one, the reflection clearly makes it look like he's in the enclosure.

And with the words "we eat meat" emblazoned on the window, it certainly makes a striking and dramatic image.

Shanice, 28, said: "I couldn't believe it when I saw the picture.

"It really wasn't intentional and people have asked whether I altered it using Photoshop.

"However, nothing could be further from the truth.

"I'm not a techie person and it was just taken on my iPhone.

"I always look at other people's photos and they look so amazing and professional.

"Mine are usually terrible but I certainly got lucky with this one! It's awesome."

Braintree and Witham Times:

Big smiles - little Noah and mum Shanice

Shanice, a theatre support worker at Addenbrooke's Hospital, and Noah live in St Ives, just outside Cambridge, but regularly visit Colchester Zoo.

Shanice grew up in Witham and went to Templars Primary School and New Rickstones Academy.

They were at the zoo with Shanice's partner, Jake Moore, and mum, Carol Morgan, and she admits having a "bit of a moment" because of the way Noah engaged with Bailey.

"Noah's autistic and for him to get so close to the lions is amazing," she said.

"It was a bit of a moment for me because in addition to the photo we ended up getting, he started saying the word 'cat'.

"He's non-verbal so it was lovely to see him engaging.

"It was very exciting and emotional for me.

"Noah has seen the picture and thinks it's funny.

"It's definitely one we're going to get printed and framed."

Shanice is due to give birth to her second child on November 17.