To celebrate and honor the World Cup in South Africa, a restaurant in Arizona has been serving a lion burger for $21 as part of their limited-time promotion. The restaurant owner was alarmed to learn Wednesday that the Homer Glen exotic meat dealer supplying the meat had previously been in trouble with the federal government for illegal selling of endangered species.
“This is the first I’ve heard of this,” Cameron Selogie, owner of Il Vinaio restaurant, said after learning of Czimer’s Game & Sea Foods past troubles. Owner of the said restaurant, Richard Czimer, was locked up in prison for 6 months and slapped with hefty fines in 2003 for selling “lion” meat that proved to be meat from endangered species, which include tigers.
Selogie said the concept of serving lion burgers was a tribute to South Africa, host nation of the World Cup.
He said, “In Africa they do eat lions, so I assume if it’s OK for Africans to eat lions then it should be OK for us.” He also added, “We thought that since the World Cup was in Africa that the lion burger might be interesting for some of our more adventurous customers.” The meat is from a lion that was raised at a free range farm in Illinois, which is regulated by the US Department of Agriculture.
The Restaurant owner said he had explained to protesters that African lions are on the protected list, but not endangered.
Selogie has been inundated with hundreds of angry e-mails and even a bomb threat. But he points out that African lions are on the protected list, but not endangered.
According to Jim Brownlee, U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman, lion meat was uncommon dish, but there are no prohibitions against it.