Posted by: petsweekly | June 29, 2010

The food chain – and I ain’t lion…

A local Mesa, AZ restaurant got their five minutes of fame after announcing that they will be serving “Lion Burgers” during the World Cup.

For those who missed the story, allow me to give you a fair, impartial, unbiased overview of the situation…

A stupid-ass restaurant in Mesa, AZ (whose name I don’t even want to mention), decided to “celebrate the world cup” by serving “USDA-certified African Lion Burgers.”

Really? The USDA is certifying African lion now? Assuming that were true (and it’s not), would it really be a good thing? Good Lord, the USDA can’t even keep track of a few cows, let alone figure out how to “certify” African lion. And as it turns out, that’s part of the problem. According to the FDA, they are in charge of lion meat, not the USDA, (which is no better in my book).

The owner of non-mentioned restaurant said he bought the meat through a Phoenix “wild game distributor” which is owned by another jerk, Rick Worrilow. Both idiots claim that the meat is “from a free-range farm in Illinois.”

(In related news, I’ve just learned that my childhood dog did not go to live on a farm in Illinois after all – thank God!)

When the meat arrived at the restaurant last week, the owner said it came in packaging with the name “Czimer’s Game & Sea Foods.”

According to CNN, “Czimer isn’t a free-range farm. It’s a butcher shop located just outside of Chicago in Homer Glen, Ill.”

Huh. Go figure… while I’m relieved that there are no “lion farms” in the state of Illinois, it still raises the question of where the meat came from. According to CNN (again), “the meat is the byproduct of a skinning operation owned by another man,” who Czimer declined to name.

“Byproduct?” Really?

Czimer is no angel. “Back in 2003, Chicago newspapers covered his conviction and six-month prison sentence for selling meat from federally protected tigers and leopards. Czimer admitted to purchasing the carcasses of 16 tigers, four lions, two mountain lions and one liger — a tiger-lion hybrid — which were skinned, butchered and sold as “lion meat,” for a profit of more than $38,000.”

Here’s a little sidenote – if this “restaurant” can’t even determine where their lion meat came from and how it got to the deserts of AZ, how do they know if it’s really lion meat? And what else are they serving over there that they know nothing about? At this point, let’s go ahead and name the restaurant. It’s Il Vinaio – just so you can go ahead and avoid the place from now on.

Now, what African lion burgers have to do with the World Cup really eludes me. Why an Italian restaurant would want to serve lion burgers (or burgers, for that matter) also eludes me.

African lions are protected, but not endangered, so I guess it’s legally okay to eat them. Personally, I think it’s very wrong. Why it’s wrong, I’m not really sure. I just don’t know that it’s a good idea for one apex predator to eat another apex predator. And if we’re going to start doing that, then why don’t these idiots just start serving up all predators? Including people? I’m sure there’s some seedy little butcher in the Midwest willing to provide something for restaurants who don’t check sources.

I’m not a vegan, I’m not a vegetarian. But I don’t eat other predators. I’m a firm believer in professional courtesy and that just seems like a violation of a code. That’s not to say that I’m right. I’m probably not. But, I do live in a food chain and you have to have rules.

I don’t know. What are your thoughts? Should we eat other predators or not? Where do we draw the line? Is eating a fellow carnivore wrong or just “dis-taste-ful?” (Thanks for that, Dee!).

Big Cat Rescue: While we’re on the subject of big cats, I hope you’ll take a look at Big Cat Rescue in Florida – an amazing group of people who are actually doing some incredible things for the animals they rescue.

Maybe instead of buying a lion burger, you can drop the $20 to Big Cat Rescue. I think that’s a much better use of the coin…


  1. Back in the early 80’s,when I was desperate to get into the animal training field I happened across an individual in Texas (no name mentioned ) who had what I now know to be nothing more than a very dirty, corrupt, and extremely cruel roadside “zoo”. Then, as a young, ignorant, and overly passionate person just trying to find a break, I was totally “wowed ” by all he had on his property and within his collection. I did show interest and even asked if there were a possibility that he could use an extra hand working with his collection of animals. His response at that time was under conditions of sexual nature. As passionate as I may have been about breaking into my field of dreams, this “condition ” was in no way acceptable, and honestly, dampened my passion considerably. However, during the time spent there he revealed something I must have let go into my subconscious due to my intense focus on only what ” I ” wanted at the time, but came back once the disappointment went away and the total rage of his ” condition ” hit.
    He had said that his tiger collection was worth more dead than alive. Then, I remembered him showing a huge pile of full tiger pelts, along with hundreds of other miscellaneous items in his house which were parts of some type of animal. I don’t remember all of them because the house was literally full of these “collectables. ” He claimed most had come from Africa. And, yeah I may have been young and ignorant, but I was very well read, especially in the area of big cats. And that pile of 20 tiger pelts didn’t come from Africa.
    I did report him to the USDI and to every other agency there was available I could think of.
    Shortly after, I did break into my field, and into an established, legally operating, AZA facility at that.
    I heard there had been some rare white tigers born in Texas and the individual was getting 35,000 each per cub. Then he had another litter born from a different female shortly after and went up on price. Zoos From all over the world were putting in bids and yes I found out it was HIM.
    Somehow he got word I had been employed with this zoo, and then got my parents phone #. He called while I was visiting my parents sounding desperate for help. Apparently he ” needed ” to leave his property for an unknown amount of time and now that I had experience, he wanted to hire me to manage his place during his absence. Uh, I don’t think so. ( I wasn’t really that nice with my refusal to help him out of whatever mess he seemed to be running from )
    I have heard he was found dead, shot, in a car on an interstate.
    I have also heard he is in prison doing some really hard time.
    One thing I have heard which is true, all the “White Tiger ” cubs he sold, didn’t stay white as they grew older. Bad news for all the zoos who spent all that money, but, it did save them from being killed by being shot in the head while in the familiar enclosure they were raised in on a very early morning, when no one would be likely to hear a gunshot. Skinned, and then most likely had their meat processed and sold to this company mentioned in your blog or to some other idiot.
    It may not be as timely as we would like to see it come around but. Karma is a Bitch when She catches up sometimes.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this story and supporting our rescue and educational mission. If anyone out there would like to write a letter to their legislators to stop this insanity, please go to this link:

    Thank you for adding your voice to our efforts.

    For the cats……Julie

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