Lion tacos spark outrage in Florida but will remain on menu

A Tampa restaurant will not pull exotic lion meat tacos off the menu despite receiving death threats.

Lion meat taco controversy: Lions in South AfricaReuters: Markus Gilliar

A Tampa, Fla., restaurant that received death threats for experimenting with $35 lion tacos has decided not to pull them off the menu.

According to the Tampa Tribune, the restaurant — aptly named Taco Fusion because of its penchant for serving exotic meats — received bomb threats and a host of other bad PR on social media because it dared to serve lion meat.

Taco Fusion manager Bayardo Alvarez told MSN News that despite media reports saying that the lion tacos had been pulled, the restaurant is still serving them.

"I don't know where [other media] got that, but we are definitely serving lion tacos and we will continue to serve them," he said Friday. "At this point we might even run out of it and if that happens, I'll just order more from our distributor, Exotic Meat Market."

Alvarez said that the restaurant had discussed pulling the meat in between shifts but didn't actually do it.

"We got a lot of threats — people said they were going to blow up the building, burn us down," Alvarez said.

The restaurant  took down its Facebook page, which received a lot of negative comments about the lion tacos.

"Some guy just called and said he'd kidnap me and grind me up for a taco," restaurant owner Ryan Gougeon told the Tribune.

TV vans parked outside the restaurant added to the spectacle, and at one point an angry consumer reportedly attacked the restaurant's general manager in a wrestling match.

The restaurant — which has only 2½ stars on Yelp — also serves ostrich, bison, rattler and scorpion.

According to Gougeon, the lion meat is authentic and came from a farm that raises the animals for meat, something considered legal in the U.S. because lions fall under the "threatened" and not the "endangered" category.

Taco Fusion posted a statement on its website defending its right to carry whatever it wants in its restaurant:

"Who decides which animals are worthy? If the argument is that a Lion is 'Majestic' so you shouldn’t breed them for meat consumption — then what is the lesson here? That only the majestic pretty girls get treated well and the ugly ones go to the slaughter pen? How pompous and idiotic does that sound?"

The statement then goes on to address the public outrage:

"You can’t call for diversity, freedom, and choice- and then in the same token turn around and demand censorship, new laws, arrests, and businesses be shut down because you don’t agree with what someone else is LEGALLY doing. This isn’t Cuba; This isn’t North Korea; This isn’t Stalinist Russia; Just remember: This is America, baby."