Lion burger off the menu
Why does my burger taste suspiciously like cat… and what’s that roaring noise from the kitchen?
Lion burger off the menu
Local eatery drops the exotic dish in the wake of some complaints
Dave Kahn, owner of Dave’s Pizza & Burgers on Fuller Road, said Wednesday that he was discontinuing a $20 burger made from African lion meat.
The move came only about an hour after the Washington, D.C.-based International Fund for Animal Welfare put out a statement calling Kahn’s lion burger an ill-advised “PR stunt” in light of the declining lion population. He had dropped the price from the original $75.
“It’s really not worth it. I didn’t know people would be so upset,” said Khan, who opened his restaurant about six weeks ago. “We’re not out to hurt anyone. We don’t want them to get so mad (that) they’re calling us upset.”
He had bought a “few pounds” of lion meet from a Nevada supplier before he opened, has sold it all in the form of about 10 burgers, and will not be reordering.
That decision was welcomed by Jeffrey Flocken, office director for the conservation group, which has been part of efforts that have led eight restaurants in states including Kansas, Virginia, Illinois and Arizona, as well as Washington, D.C., to drop lion meat from their offerings since 2009.
“It is encouraging that pressure and ethics led to this decision,” said Flocken, whose organization also has offices in Kenya and South Africa.
While it is legal to sell and consume lion meat, that could change if the U.S. government decides to add lions to the U.S. endangered species list. That review is currently under way by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Flocken said there about 30,000 lions worldwide, a decline of 50 percent over last three decades.
“We hope that this message is clear: There is no public appetite for lion meat,” he said. He said there is no evidence that lions are being “farmed” in the U.S. for meat, and said it is likely that much of what is being sold as lion meat comes from other exotic, endangered big cats that are being disposed of by their private owners.
The statement from the International Fund for Animal Welfare quoted Khan as saying, “Lions are killing machines and ruthless and have no compassion for weak.” Khan said the quote was accurate and had appeared on his Facebook page, which had been taken down as of Wednesday afternoon. Khan said he regretted his word choice and the upset it caused.
His other exotic-meat burgers, including rattlesnake, python, camel, kangaroo, rabbit, llama and crocodile, have sold so well they have eclipsed almost all the other fare on his menu.
“I ask everyone if they want pizza – our pizza is really good — and they say, ‘We don’t come here for pizza. We want your burgers.'”
Russ McCurdy, a representative for Exotic Meats USA in Reno, Nev., said his company has not sold lion meat in more than two years since the ranch that supplied it went out of business. The company also no longer sells bear meat.
Noting that the only game meat from a carnivorous animal that is regularly consumed is alligator, McCurdy said, “Raising lions and bears is just too difficult. … There isn’t enough demand to make it worthwhile.”