A northern Ontario woman who came upon a wild lynx outside her shop captured the encounter on video and posted it online, drawing both awe and ridicule from commentators.
Beth-Ann Colebourne, 31, says the chance meeting happened Tuesday evening outside her nail salon in Terrace Bay, Ont., about 225 km east of Thunder Bay in northern Ontario.
Colebourne says she didn't feel threatened by the animal and made sure she gave it room to get away, but her calls of "Kitty, kitty, kitty" and "What's up buddy, what are you doing?" had some online commentators questioning her sanity.
Despite her invitations of "Hey, Lynx!" and "Come here," the animal appears uninterested in making friends and walks quickly away, looking back several times.
Colebourne, who has two children and describes herself as an animal lover, also posted video of herself chasing a bear away from a crosswalk while she was riding her ATV last summer and was worried about the bear getting too close to some children.
She says she's lived in the northern community for eight years after moving from Toronto, and has seen lots of bears, as well as fox, moose and many other wild animals. But she says lynx are extremely rare in the area.
"People who have lived here all their life have never seen footage or a picture like that, ever, so that was really crazy."
When she saw the lynx outside "just looking" at her, she couldn't resist following it and taking the video, adding she moved slowly so as not to scare the cat and didn't corner or threaten it.
"I felt like a kid in a candy shop, you know when you see a really cool animal at the zoo or something," she said. "So I just walked up to him and talked to him."
Not everyone thought it was so cool.
"You're lucky that lynx didn't feel like playing," posted someone named "Illusive."
"It's all fun and games right up until you lose your face," added Igor Rebenko.
"What am I doing? I am not eating your face off right now that's what I'm doing!" posted "supbrotv."
A few people came to her defence.
"In Canada, dangerous wild animals are often treated as cute and cuddly little critters as shown in this video. We just don't get scared like normal people," wrote Marcel Gagne.
Colebourne says she understands why people might think her actions are crazy, but the negative posts don't bother her.
"It's just who I am," she says, adding those who know her have dubbed her "the crazy cat lady whisperer."
"It's embarrassing but it's hilarious at the same time. It's funny to me."
By Thursday afternoon, Colebourne's video had been viewed more than 40,000 times on YouTube, but was no longer accessible on the site later in the day. The video was, however, still available on Colebourne's Facebook page, where it had been viewed more than 126,000 times.
Colebourne also posted on Facebook later on Thursday that she had been offered "a contract with royalties from a major media centre" and called her newfound fame a "really neat and crazy experience."Suggest a correction