Cameron Selogie had to know his lion burger promotion in honor of the World Cup was going to cause some controversy. But what happened was more than he bargained for, and exactly where he got the meat has become the most bizarre mystery this side of the officiating in the United States' games at the Cup.
First, what started all of this:
Cameron Selogie, owner of the Il Vinaio restaurant in Mesa, served burgers made with African lion this week as a nod to the tournament in South Africa. Reservations sold out, with a waiting list 100 long.
But the burgers also attracted international attention and the scorn of animal rights activists, who picketed outside the restaurant. Selogie has even received some death threats.
Then, things got strange.
Questions arose about the origin of the lion meat, which was mixed with ground beef to make a suitable burger. (Apparently, lion meat is quite gamey. Who knew? I mean, seriously -- who would know such a thing?)
Selogie thought it came from an African lion farm in Illinois. Because everyone knows the best farmed lion meat comes from Illinois. Eventually, it was tracked to a butcher shop owned by Richard Czimer. Mr. Czimer is apparently best known locally for being sentenced to a six-month prison term for illegally selling tiger and leopard meat.
The meat is the byproduct of a skinning operation owned by another man, Czimer said in an interview with CNNMoney.com. He declined to name that gentleman. ...
He's willing to take a hands-off approach: "Do you question where chickens come from when you go to Brown's Chicken or Boston Market?" he asked.
Czimer also claims the USDA approved his lion meat, which would be a good excuse if the USDA approves lion meat.
But here's a twist: The USDA says it doesn't inspect lions bred for meat. That's the job of the Food and Drug Administration.
The moral of our story? Depends on to whom you're listening. If you listen to Selogie, it's that animal-rights activists are Nazis:
The few have tarnished the reputation of the many. To threaten my family who are not involved and do not even live in this state is not only ignorant but the same type of hate as Adolph Hitler and many others since and before.
To the rest of us: Don't try to make money off cultures you don't understand. And for crying out loud, don't buy or sell lion burgers.