TAMPA, Fla. - Angry lion lovers have threatened both a Tampa, Fla. restaurant and its employees after the establishment recently added the king of beasts to its menu for customers looking to try more exotic Mexican fare.
Since Taco Fusion, a Mexican restaurant known to offer unusual game meats like ostrich, camel, and bison in its tacos, added lion meat to its menu of "Safari Tacos" on May 2, the restaurant has had to field hostile calls from critics who are up in arms over the menu choice.
"[People have been] coming into the establishment and throwing punches," the restaurant's manager Brad Barnett told "Good Morning America." "They say they are going to bomb us, burn us down, blow us up."
"They threatened to kidnap Brad [Barnett] and the owner," another manager, Bayardo Alvarez, told ABC News.
Despite the disapproval, Taco Fusion ran out of lion meat Friday night, Alvarez said.
Even though the animal is in danger of extinction, it is legal to sell and eat lion meat in the United States.
On its menu, the establishment alerts patrons that its game meat offerings are in limited supply and are available at market price. For lion meat, this translates to $34.99 a taco, compared to less expensive options like kangaroo or ostrich, both costing $13.99, Alvarez said.
One pound of lion meat costs $220 alone, Barnett said.
The restaurant sounded off on its website to take on critics who condemned the divisive menu option.
"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 restaurant wrote.
"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," the eatery said. "This isn't Cuba; This isn't North Korea; This isn't Stalinist Russia; Just remember: This is America, baby."
This isn't the first time lion meat on a menu has drawn derision.
Baco Tacos y Tequila, a Tuscon, Ariz., Tex-Mex joint, pulled the plug on a one-night promotion to sell tacos made from farm-raised African lions in January 2011 after protesters caught wind of the scheme.
"Due to concern for safety of our families, customers, vendors, and friends we will not be selling African Lion Tacos on Feb. 16th, 2011. We will continue to bring unique and creative menu items, but not at the expense of safety," the restaurant's owner Bryan Mazon said.