A restaurant in downtown Mesa, AZ is reportedly to begin serving lion burgers made from real lion meat. The meat does not come from wild African lions. It comes from African lions living on a farm in Illinois.
It wouldn’t be the first time lion has been on the menu in an American restaurant. A Philadelphia dining establishment had been offering it, but protesters raised such a clamor, they had to remove lion meat from their menu.
It was reported the lion meat came from Fallows Farm in Illinois, and it is a legal operation. So, why is raising African lions for meat legal in the United States?
The Arizona restaurant is named Il Vinaio, and has decent reviews on Yelp. Except for the one that says, “Serving Lion should be illegal and you should be ashamed of yourselves. It’s just wrong and very sad.” The reviewer may not actually have seen the burgers being served, and commented due to news coverage, or may have actually seen the lion burgers being served. Either way, it is a clear example of the potential of user-generated content to tell the truth about what is happening in our society.
Another restaurant in Sacramento was reported in April to be serving a burger made from a mix of lion and antelope meat. The restaurant is called the Flaming Grill. A phone call recently confirmed they still serve the lion and antelope burger, but they are currently out of the ingredients and are waiting for more. They also have good Yelp reviews, and a user in May wrote the menu includes, “…alligator, yak, llama, kangaroo, antelope, and… lion!?”
In the U.S. there may be any number of restaurants serving game. However, with lions the story is different because they are a vulnerable species in the wild, and their numbers are declining. Two recent surveys estimated the range of African lions to be 16,500-30,000, or 29,000-47,000.
Image Credit: yaaaay