Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Arizona Restaurant Serves Lion Meat To Mark World Cup

Arizona Restaurant Serves Lion Meat To Mark World Cup
All Head Lines News By Kris Alingod

Mesa, AZ, United States (AHN) - An Arizona restaurant wanting to attract soccer fans following the 2010 World Cup in South African has instead caught the attention of animal rights advocates with its new offering of lion meat burger.

Il Vinaio in downtown Mesa began serving lion meat on Wednesday despite criticisms from activists and some patrons. Restaurant owner Cameron Selogie has told the Arizona Republic that the meat comes from a free-range farm in Illinois that is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But a patron and member of the restaurant's e-club, Susan Cooper, also told the newspaper, "I'm thoroughly disgusted to say the least... A beautiful, exotic creature that should be out in the wild is being killed for someone to eat as a burger."

The restaurant announced its new dish last week on its Facebook page, saying, "Don't miss your opportunity to taste real African Lion, while supplies last!" Most fans voiced support for the burgers, and condemned the threats reported by the owner.

Selogie told the Republic he has received a bomb threat and 150 e-mail messages from protesters.

"Had bomb threats and direct threats to our chef," the restaurant says in its Facebook page. "Seems animal activists favor animals over humans. I've known that for awhile. Ex-girlfriend once told me if there was an animal and a baby in a burning building, she would save the animal... thanks to all our fans... To our protestors thank you for standing up for what you believe in. In the words of Rodney King, 'why can't we all just get along?' "

Lions have a life span of 10 to 14 years and are on listed on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable. Their population worldwide has been reduced by 30 percent over the past two decades. Lions were once found around the African continent but they have become extinct in North Africa. They are now found only in the sub-Saharan region, according to African Wildlife Foundation.

Another subspecies once common in southwest Asia, the Asiatic lion, can now only be found in India's Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.

Lions face a number of threats such habitat loss from commercial development and pollution, and natural occurrences such as droughts and epidemics. The most serious threats are poaching from hunters and poisoning from ranchers who want to protect their livestock or retaliate for attacks on their farm animals.

Hunters use lion hide as trophies to be made into wildlife mounts or rugs, or turn the wild cats into captive, factory-farmed animals to be used for meat or canned hunting and whose cubs are rented out to eco-tourism resorts. Canned hunting, a big industry in South Africa, involves breeders putting a tame, human-bred lion in a fenced area, or drugging the animal or using packs of dogs to help hunters kill the animal.

Il Vinaio is not the first restaurant to serve lion meat. The South Philadelphia Tap Room caught international attention in 2008 for serving lion meat. The restaurant, which reportedly used meat from Fallows Farm, the same farm that supplies Il Vinaio, was forced to stop serving its dish of lion meat in duck fat and coconut rice because of public uproar.

A Tampa-based restaurant known for its menu of bison, elk and other exotic meats, Spoto's Steak Joint, has also served lion meat.

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