| Opinion |

Taco Fusion in Tampa: Still Serving Lion Meat Despite Denials

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People became angry in Tampa recently when it was announced that the city's Taco Fusion was serving lion meat. They also serve gazelle, kangaroo, ostrich, beaver, otter, and other animals, but it was the king of the jungle that awakened the public's ire.

In the face of much criticism, the following message was posted recently online by Taco Fusion, according to Time magazine: "Thank you all for the feedback regarding the lion meat promotion at Taco Fusion. Some of you were supportive, some of you were angry. We listened to everyone and decided to no longer carry lion. The lion meat is sold out and we do not plan to carry it again. Thank you all for your feedback."

But that is not what I was told when I called the restaurant.

I spoke with manager Bayardo Alvarez who said, "I don't how they got that information, but that is wrong. We never stopped. I think they said we stopped serving the lion meat, but that was just because I ran out. But then I got some more and I started selling it again."

He then asked me if I was going to quote him. When I replied in the affirmative, he asked me to tell him what I was going to report. After I read the above quote back to him verbatim, he chuckled and said that the quote was fine.

Being a Leo in the Western zodiac, a tiger in the Eastern zodiac, and a bobcat in the Native American zodiac, I was inclined to develop an affection for big cats from birth. I also tend to love all animals, big or small. The fact that lion, or any of these animals is being served, is repugnant.

Instinctually, you'd think that serving lion meat would be illegal, but Taco Fusion is breaking no laws when it comes to wrapping lion flesh in a flour tortilla. Lions are not on the endangered species list -- yet. They are considered a 'threatened' species, so it is legal to serve them up as chow.

The difference between 'threatened' and 'endangered is explained on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service website: "Endangered species are at the brink of extinction now.Threatened species are likely to be at the brink in the near future."

Which brings me to the federal government. Why would it allow the consumption of animals which will soon be on the brink of extinction?

I spoke with local artist Barbara M de Varona, a former Cat Network member and current volunteer, and asked her what she thinks about Taco Fusion's menu. "I'm disgusted. There is no amount of justification. What the hell is that about? What's to keep them from going further? If they're going to use animals that are in danger of becoming endangered, such as lions, then what's next? Tiger, because it'll be a delicacy?"

Tigers, by the way, are in danger of becoming extinct. There are more in captivity than there are in the wild.

Are we so insecure in our position at the top of the food chain, that we have to continuously show other animals who's boss? Maybe serving 'safari tacos' is a way of keeping the animal kingdom on its paws, Hey, buddy. Yeah, you there, elephant. Don't rest on your laurels. When we run out of tigers, you're next, dude.

If wild animals ever develop interspecies communication skills, we're doomed. Barbie burrito, anyone?

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