A Wichita restaurant that is planning a one-night-only, exotic dinner next week has decided to remove lion meat from the menu after animal-rights and social-action groups protested.
Taste & See, a restaurant on East Harry at the Office This complex between Hillside and Oliver, is serving the dinner featuring kangaroo, alpaca, crocodile and water buffalo, among other meats.
Chef Jason Febres said Friday night on his Facebook page that, “We did took a second look ... and realized that yes, it can be a little shocking and disturbing for some people. ... I did felt touched and didn’t mean to offend anybody so I decided to make it right and substitute the Lion course.”
Febres’ sold-out dinner caused quite a fuss among groups such as wild-animal advocates Born Free USA and via the social-action site Change.org, where a petition was started which called for people to pressure Febres to cancel the dinner. He has no plans to do so and said some of the information about his dinner has been misleading.
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Febres said his original plan was not to serve wild African lion but rather lion meat that was farm-raised. He said he also is not adding lion meat – or any of the other meats featured at the $160 dinner Tuesday – to his regular menu.
“It’s just ignorance,” he said of some of the information going out in e-mails about his event.
He also stressed that the African lion is not an endangered species.
Born Free USA and other groups are pushing for the lions to be given such status. Born Free USA sent out an e-mail blast to its members about Febres’ dinner. At Change.org, a petition was started against the dinner.
Its e-newsletter says that Febres “is going to slice and dice exotic animals from around the world and pretend the meal he’s creating is something chic and wonderful. As bad as it is that he is cooking bits and pieces of African lion and other species usually spared from North American dinner plates (alpaca, antelope, crocodile, hare, kangaroo and water buffalo), what might be worse is that enough people have agreed to pay $160 for the ‘experience’ that it is sold out.”
Born Free called the dinner “absolutely nauseating” and urged members to call or e-mail Taste & See.
Some members forwarded the e-mail to The Eagle.
Anita Robertson, a Born Free supporter who lives in Massachusetts, said she supports many animal and environmental groups.
“I think it’s disgusting,” she said of the dinner. “I think it’s revolting.”
Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free, which has offices in California and Washington, D.C., said his group and others have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the African lion as endangered. The group also has raised concerns about the safety of eating such meat.
“Lion meat is not consumed anywhere in the world as a staple,” Roberts said. “This is a publicity stunt by a few restaurants around the country.”
An Arizona restaurant last year canceled its plan to serve farm-raised lion meat in tacos after people protested.
Roberts said lion meat, no matter the source, is a “significant campaign issue for us.”
“We believe that wild animals belong in the wild, and there should be no slaughter for human consumption, especially in the U.S.,” he said.
Contributing: Hurst Laviana of The Eagle