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Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
Food & Dining

Taco Fusion may keep controversial lion tacos on menu

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Published:   |   Updated: May 10, 2013 at 09:16 AM

Should Taco Fusion have taken the lion tacos off its menu?

Yes
45%
No
55%

Total Votes: 1170

TAMPA -

Bomb threats, fistfights and TV news vans outside. It's just another day for a taco joint serving tacos made with real lion meat.
 
“We're getting all kinds of threats over it,” said Ryan Gougeon, owner of Taco Fusion on Bay to Bay Boulevard in Tampa that put lion meat on their taco menu this week. Controversy soon erupted and social media exploded with criticism that anyone would serve lion meat.
 
“Now we're getting bomb threats, and everything else. Some guy just called and said he'd kidnap me and grind me up for a taco. There are so many coming in we aren't counting.”
 
Besides serving the standard chicken tacos and a giant nacho platter, the Taco Fusion restaurant specializes in all sorts of exotic meats: Gator, elk, bear, zebra and kangaroo. The lion meat taco is priced at $35 apiece, and has been selling well.
 
The lion meat is authentic, Gougeon said, and comes from a farm that raises the animals for meat. Such a practice is legal in the United States because lions are only considered threatened, and not endangered.
 
Besides the TV news crews outside, a steady stream of characters are coming in the store, Gougeon said.
 
“My general manager was just attacked. A guy came in, took a swing at him and missed,” he said. “They had a brief wrestling match, but the guy ran for it. That was two hours ago. Some other guy just called saying he's on the way in now to fight us.”
 
Tampa police are now investigating a number of death threats the managers said they received, according to a police spokeswoman.
 
For a time, Taco Fusion took down its Facebook page that had hundreds of angry postings, and early today there was some indication they would take lion meat off the menu.
 
Now, however, serving lion meat is becoming a point of pride.
 
“The fact that they're trying to bully us now just eggs us on to keep carrying it,” Gougeon said. “They want to restrict our freedom of choice. It's still 100 percent legal. So maybe we keep serving it.”
 
rmullins@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7919 Twitter: @DailyDeadline

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