Mesa restaurant cooks up controversy with lion burgers

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by Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 24 at 9:03 AM

MESA, Ariz. -- A Mesa restaurant is cooking up a whole lot of controversy because of its lion burgers.

The owner of Il Vinaio thought lion burgers would be a fun spin on the World Cup games going on in South Africa, but he has received more than 200 angry e-mails from people upset with the new menu item.

The kitchen even got a bomb threat.

The African lion is classified as a vulnerable species and has seen its population dwindle, however, restaurant owner Cameron Selogie said this meat is actually from a free-range farm in Illinois that is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Turns out it's actually farmed in Illinois and it's about as humane a farm as can be," Selogie said. "It's free range, the lions are not in cages, they're not hunted, they're not shot, and it does nothing to dwindle the population in Africa."

Selogie said the lion burgers were never intended to be a permanent menu item and only bought 10 pounds of the meat.

Il Vinaio is located near Main Street and Country Club Drive in Mesa.

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