"You people are DISGUSTING!" wrote "Plain Jane" on Facebook. "You are EVIL!!! I will share you everywhere and hope to shut you down. Stupid morons!"
South Tampa restaurant Taco Fusion, which opened in February, launched the promotion with an attention-getting statement on Facebook: "Real men eat Lion. The king of the jungle? Not anymore, baby."
On Wednesday, owner Ryan Gougeon told Florida news outlets that he's been receiving online death threats, but didn't really see why serving lion meat was such a big deal.
“In my mind, I don’t think this is a bad thing,” Ryan Gougeon told the Tampa Tribune. “These are animals that are raised for consumption on a farm, not from the wild where they are threatened. I travel to Asia frequently and exotic meats don’t seem to be a problem, but people here are stuck on beef, pork, and chicken that are slaughtered inhumanely.”
Customers strongly disagreed.
"Serving lion meat is unconscionable," Robert B. wrote on Yelp. "Why not serve house cat or rat or dog while you're at it? It's a dangerous, disgusting practice."
"I think they should serve tacos filled with meat carved from the dead carcass of the f***ing owner," commented Matt Thompson on Facebook.
Taco Fusion officials posted an unrepentant reply: “If you guys are mad now, just wait till you see what we do next.”
On Thursday, however, the restaurant announced that they were discontinuing the lion taco.
"Thank you for all the feedback regarding the lion meat promotion at Taco Fusion," the company said in a statement on their website. "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."
But while they're no longer serving lion, Taco Fusion still features plenty of other exotic offerings in their "Safari Tacos" section, all at "market price." Still available, according to their online menu: shark, ostrich, gazelle, rattlesnake, and kangaroo. On the way: iguana, bear, and zebra.
Selling lion meat is not illegal in the United States, as long as the animals were farm-raised for human consumption by vendors and not hunted down on safari. But lions are considered "vulnerable" in the wild. That's just a step away from "endangered" -- and that's why so many people are outraged.
Some Taco Fusion customers, however, consider the lion taco fair game.
"Man, it's delicious," Frank Consoli told the Tampa Tribune after he tried the $35 soft taco on Wednesday. "I don't see why people would be upset. It's not like a lion is all cuddly. It would eat your face off."
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