Taco Fusion, a new restaurant in south Tampa, Florida, has created an uproar for some with their controversial new menu item: lion tacos.
For only $35, customers can tame the wild beast in their belly and conquer the king of the jungle; but, what do you tell the youngsters when they ask you if you have just eaten Simba’s dad, Mufasa?
Restaurant patron Lee Weiner did not seem to have a problem with eating the giant cat, “I thought the lion was good. It didn’t taste too game to me, similar to steak.” (eatocracy.com)
However, others were not as happy with Taco Fusion’s decision to serve a threatened species on a tortilla shell with taco sauce, lettuce, and salsa, “I really don’t like that at all,” remarked McKenzie Bremer opposing the restaurant’s decision. (eatocracy.com)
The Florida eatery has served other non-traditional filling such as beaver and otter, but the lion meat has people roaring mad.
Born Free USA, a wild animal advocacy group, launched a covert investigation into the lion meat trade in 2011, and have created a petition to have African lion listed as an endangered species on the US Endangered Species Act. The US Fish and Wildlife Service responded favorably, concluding there was significant confirmation that listing the lion as an endangered species is warranted. However, they have yet to act on it, so have not issued a finding.
Jeff Kremer, of Big Cat Rescue, the largest sanctuary in the world dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned big cats since 1992,
questioned the taco restaurant’s decision as well. “There is obviously an animal welfare concern and there is a bigger picture. The bigger concern is where do we, as society, draw the line for what is acceptable for moral and ethical behavior.” (eatocracy.com)
Taco Fusion’s owners claim the meat for the specialty tacos is purchased from a supplier who raises the lions for the sole purpose of human consumption. Brad Barnett, restaurant manager, said they wanted to offer something different to their customers and the chance to try something they might not get to somewhere else. The restaurant has seen a backlash of negative and harsh responses on social media, “We have people who just sit on their couch and just want to go online and say things, be hurtful, make threats,” said Barnett. (eatocracy.com)
Barnett appears unfazed by the court of public opinion, his answer to the controversy, “If you don’t like it, don’t eat it.” (eatocracy.com)
The answer Barnett gives is at once uneducated, heartless, banal, immature and a bit tedious. To say, “If you don’t like it, don’t eat it,” is a bit like say “Tough noogies”. As a restaurateur, there must be a more elegant way to present a message.
Traditionally, there are certain animals we do not eat in this country and lions fit into that category; we do not have to have lengthy discussions about it, it simply “is”. As people travel, experiment, use the Internet and explore, and our world becomes smaller, issues that are more controversial are being addressed into our daily lives such as eating animals we see at the zoo or in a corral.
America is a melting pot of cultural ideas, ideals, people, and traditions, and while we have to accept some things about each other, there are certain nuances about life that some Americans do not want to stand by and watch. Eating Mufasa or Secretariat is not something most of us are ready to do, or to watch others do; especially served in a taco shell or on a hamburger bun.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent/Product Specialist