Taco Fusion created an uproar in Tampa, Florida for serving lion-meat tacos. "Our whole thought process of bringing the exotic meats to the Tampa Bay area was to give people the opportunity to try different things that they normally wouldn't get to try," said manager Brad Barnett, according to KPLC TV.
The restaurant, only open since February, serves exotic meats including bison, shark, ostrich, gator, gazelle, rabbit, duck, camel and kangaroo. Future menu items will feature iguana, bear and zebra.
Taco Fusion owner Ryan Gougeon said he began receiving online threats since announcing the new lion promotion. But that didn't deter the restaurant from selling the meat until it was gone. "We have as much right for everybody to try it as you have as much right to say that you don't like it," Barnett said.
Importing or selling lion meat is not illegal. Though lions are considered vulnerable in the wild, the designation is a step short of endangered protection, according to wildlife conservation groups.
"I think it's appalling," Jeff Kremer of Tampa's Big Cat Rescue. "I think we, as a society, have to define what we find morally and ethically acceptable."
Taco Fusion announced via their website that they would no longer carry the sold-out lion meat, a pound of which costs about $220, with one lion taco going for about $35. But they still plan on offering exotic meats to what they say is a booming U.S. market. “If you guys are mad now, just wait till you see what we do next.”