Arizona was in news some days back for immigration laws and now is back again with another controversy over selling ‘lion burgers’. II Vinaio in Mesa, Arizona an Italian-style restaurant sold the controversial burgers for $21 made from lion meat mixed with ground beef as a celebration for the World Cup.
The hotel has been under fire since the news got out and has been besieged with angry emails and protests. The owner of the restaurant said that the lions were raised at a free-range farm at Illinois regulated by U.S. Department of Agriculture. Lion meat is uncommon but not illegal, he added. Chicago Tribune and other sources later found out that the meat came from Czimer’s Game &Sea Foods that is an Illinois company that specializes in exotic and game meats including bear, camel and of course lion!
This is not the first time that Czimer, the restaurant’s owner has been in trouble. He was sentenced to six months in prison with hefty fine of $38,000 in 2003 for selling lion meat that was later found out to be the meat from endangered species including tiger.
The USDA does not inspect lions bred for meat. That is the job of the Food and Drug Administration. African lion is not considered endangered by US regulators but is classified as ‘threatened’ by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an International protection agreement.