Serving lion tacos at a new south Tampa, Florida, eatery has caused such controversy that some people are outraged to the point of making bomb threats or burn down the building. Some have even threatened to kidnap the owner and the restaurant’s manager.
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 Brad Barnett, restaurant manager. (eatocracy.com)
Taco Fusion, a Mexican restaurant already known for using exotic meats such as camel, bison, kangaroo, beaver, otter and ostrich, has created an uproar for many with their provocative new menu item.
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)
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. Barnett said they wanted to offer something different to their customers and the chance to try something they might not get to somewhere else.
Despite the storm of disagreement over the lion meat, some patrons are more than happy to shell out the cash for the unusual Mexican fare; last Friday, the restaurant ran out of the taco meat. According to the restaurant’s manager, they pay $220 per pound for the African lion.
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.
Taco Fusion fired back at their critics on their website, writing, “Who decides which animals are worthy? If the argument is that a lion is ‘majestic’ so you shouldn’t breed them for meat consumption — then what is the lesson here? That only the majestic pretty girls get treated well and the ugly ones go to the slaughter pen? How pompous and idiotic does that sound?” (abcnews.go)
Another restaurant came under fire for their decision to serve lion meat tacos in 2011.
Boca Tacos y Tequila in Tucson, Arizona, decided against selling the African lion meat in their tacos for a one-night promotion when they received a backlash of hostile and negative threats from angry protestors. The Tex-Mex restaurant serves other exotic fare including alligator, python, and turtle; but, when they announced they were serving lion, much like Taco Fusion, animal rights activists campaigned against it.
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.
However, what makes us roar against lion tacos or horsemeat hamburgers, but sit back and watch other non-traditional animals ground up and used in tacos? Camel. Bison. Kangaroo. Beaver. Otter. Ostrich. Alligator. Python. Turtle. At one point, they must have been considered taboo as well.
Whatever happened to a traditional chicken taco?
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent/Product Specialist