Would You Like Fries With Your Lion Burger?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the small Mesa, Arizona, restaurant that caused an up-roar this week by making a limited-time addition to its menu — Lion Burgers. If you hadn’t heard about it, well now you have. But putting any judgment aside for the moment, one has to ask — Where in the world do you get lion meat from?

According to the restaurant’s owner — who planned the exotics eats as part of a menu to promote the World Cup in South Africa — he ordered around 10 pounds of lion meat through a Phoenix-based distributor who told the restaurateur it came from a free-range farm in Illinois.

Not exactly.

The box the meat came delivered in was labeled “Czimer’s Game & Sea Foods,” which is located outside Chicago in Homer Glen, IL. And it’s not exactly a free-range farm where lions roam the plains. It’s a butcher shop that offers a whole host of uncommon animal meats, including llama and camel.

When CNN asked Mr. Czimer to reveal the origin of the lion meat, he would only say that he gets it from another man who owns an animal-skinning business:

This man buys and sells animals for the skin, and when I need something and he has ability to get it, I will bargain for the meat. It’s a byproduct.

I wouldn’t have any idea [where he gets the lions]… He has his sources, and I do not infringe on his business, just as he does not infringe on mine.

Do you question where chickens come from when you go to Brown’s Chicken or Boston Market?

On a side note, Czimer was actually busted in 2003 for selling meat from protected animals, including — no lie — a “liger.”

Hunting the lion burger butcher [CNN]

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  1. Megalomania says:

    This dude sounds awesome. Not in a “wow, cool” sort of way, but in the sort that means “this guy has record amounts of crazy in his system”. Where can you possibly get liger meat from?

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      Well, when a lion and a tigress love each other very much…

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      A liger who is being put down for some reason?

    • Julia789 says:

      People buy tigers, lions, and hybrids as “exotic pets.” Then when they grow large and cannot control them, they find they cannot pawn them off to zoos as they stupidly expected (tame lions can’t just get dumped in with wild ones in a zoo; it would be like putting a housedog in with wolves) so they sell them to skin traders who shoot them and sell the pelts as rugs or heads as trophies.

      Happens with pet chimps too. People think when they grow large, they’ll give them to a zoo. Zoos can’t take “pets” because they can’t socially interact with the “wild” established colony in the zoo. They will be killed by the zoo animals. For instance, people train pet chimps to “smile” because it is cute. To regular chimps, it is a sign of aggression.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Most chimps go into the two centers set up for old chimps by Bill Clinton. It’s true.

        • Julia789 says:

          For the military research chimps? Those are different than sanctuaries for pet chimps, I think?

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            From what I recall from NPR, some TV chimps and even Bubbles, are there…

            • The Porkchop Express says:

              they just started running a thing on bubbles on animal planet!

              Dude’s in Florida somewhere, chillin’ being a 26 year old, 200 lb Chimp

          • YOXIM says:

            There is such a thing as military research chimps? Are you fucking kidding me? That is the most awesome thing I’ve heard in a long time!! Well, second most awesome. Liger burgers > military research chimps.

  2. mythago says:

    Wow. That sure sounds safe to eat, plus it couldn’t possibly be a publicity stunt where the meat does not come from lions at all.

    • Smashville says:

      If you read past the first paragraph, you would see that indeed, it couldn’t possibly be a publicity stunt with fake lion meat.

      • mythago says:

        I did, indeed, read past the first paragraph. The guy selling the burgers says they are real lion and that it comes from a somewhat shady ‘exotic’ meat supplier who won’t reveal where he purchases his meat.

        Could it be lion? Sure. Am I going to assume these bozos are honest? No.

  3. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Where in the world do you get lion meat from?

    Wherever it is, you better hope the lion isn’t alive when you try to get it.

  4. mexifelio says:

    Where do we draw the line on what is considered the norm for eating?

    • BigHeadEd says:

      If you ask Andrew Zimmern, there is no line.

    • Im Just Saying says:

      This is America. We eat good ol’ Iowa raised corn fed beef. Cut your hair, hippie!

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        Cows, given the option of natural food choices, would not choose corn. It is not part of their natural diet.

    • blueneon says:

      Well, a start may be to not eat meat from an endangered animal! There’s less than 5,000 Sumatran tigers left in the world, and other tiger species have already become extinct due to humans destroying their habitat.

    • PunditGuy says:

      This is kind of a ridiculous question. “People” would be a legitimate answer, I guess. All other protein would seem to be fair game to someone in the world. We’re at the top of the food chain for a reason.

    • dreamfish says:

      Always reminds me of a vegetarian friend some years ago who demanded to know why meat-eaters (or those who ate ‘dead stuff’ as she put it) would eat pigs, cows and chickens but not cats or dogs.

      • tungstencoil says:

        I’ve always thought that, as an argument, that’s so fallacious.

        If one were truly starving to death, the answer would be “anything”. If one were truly having trouble to the edge of starvation, it’s “anything but people”.

        After that, it’s a matter of personal, cultural, and economic forces and preferences. There are (modern, Westernized) cultures that eat horse and dog (and fish eyes and sheeps’ brains and …).

        The idea that, to one person/group/culture, the idea that “well, if you think it’s ok to eat steak why won’t you eat dog testicles” is bad, stupid logic. It’s as bad as saying to a vegetarian who doesn’t like mushrooms, “well, you don’t eat meat… you eat alfalfa sprouts… why not mushrooms”.

      • mythago says:

        Did you ask her why she eats shiitake mushrooms but won’t lick the mildew off her shower curtain?

      • Megalomania says:

        For a more serious answer, we eat cows, chickens, and pigs (and other animals in smaller quantities) because at this point there are hundreds of years of selective breeding that make them especially fit to be grown as food, and a huge infrastructure in place so that they can be bred, grown, slaughtered, and eaten. Westerners thus grow up used to this and find it strange and – dare I say – in some cases disgusting to eat other animals we don’t think of as food; squirrels, dogs, cats, and so on. However, the reason that society actively prevents you from serving dog in your restaurant is because there is no process for certifying that meat as safe for human consumption.

        Even if we were to decide that eating dogs is great, there’s still no breed of dog that would be anywhere near as effective to raise as food, pound for pound, as any of the animals we eat now. When it comes to things we don’t breed as food (free range salmon, other seafood), we eat it because there is no effort that goes into the raising of the animals, just into catching them, which is a huge saving in resources given how much easier it is to catch fish on a large scale than land animals.

        So, in conclusion, we eat the things we do largely because we have gotten very efficient at making sure we have them around to eat. To have enough food to feed a society, you must raise it, and some animals lend themselves towards that and others do not. You can eat squirrel if you want to, but you can’t feed a city that way.

        • YOXIM says:

          That is actually a really good and very thorough explanation. I’ve never really considered the issue at length. I just eat whatever’s tasty. But your comment makes a lot of sense.

    • Julia789 says:

      I would say that usually carnivores eat herbivores. It seems a good line to draw, to me.

      It’s odd for a carnivore to eat a carnivore, but it happens sometimes.

      • Sickly-Child says:

        We’re not carnivores, though. We’re omnivores. As for carnivores shouldn’t eat carnivores, tell that to the eagle who just ate a snake for breakfast, who had a robin for breakfast, who had a caterpillar for breakfast (though, robins are technically omnivores).

      • mattarse says:

        I think in the wild carnivores eat herbivores normally becuase they are easier – carnivores will eat carnivores without any second thought.

      • MaxPower says:

        Actually, scientifically that’s a very good rule. The further you get away from plants, the less nutrition is in what you’re eating.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      The line is drawn culturally. My guess is the Chinese and other Asian countries don’t dress up their cats and dogs like we do yet they have have been eating them for centuries. We do sleep with our cats and dogs but eat beef. I heard years ago (don’t know where) that cat meat was the only inedible meat because it was,,,cat. Apparently it tasted like cat pee and smelled like cat pee and was thus inedible. Obviously that is wrong but it made sense until I read this posting.

  5. Javin says:

    Mmmmmmmmmm… Liger roast…

  6. danmac says:

    I make my tiger meat at home.

    *crickets*

  7. MeCatLikesMeHamSanwich says:

    Nom Nom Nom,

    - excuse me waiter…but there seems to be a claw in my burger
    - Your lion?
    - I most certainly am not!!!

    - excuse me waiter…but there seems to be a claw in my burger
    - It’s an environment friendly toothpick
    - Oh, how fascinating….nom nom nom

  8. Thyme for an edit button says:

    “Do you question where chickens come from when you go to Brown’s Chicken or Boston Market?”

    I do question where chicken that I eat comes from.

    • dulcinea47 says:

      I do too. and actually wouldn’t eat chicken from Boston Market or wherever.

    • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

      Yeah, that’s kind of a silly comment coming from a meat distributer. Surely he can’t be unaware that many people are concerned with where their meat (and other food) comes from, and ask questions about it?

      • mythago says:

        Seriously. Especially since that is often a selling point – that the chicken comes from a local producer, say. “We’re not going to tell you how we got this meat”? Oh, wow, how reassuring.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Ive never gone to a restaurant and asked the waiter where my meat is from.

  9. dulcinea47 says:

    If I remember right, you shouldn’t eat carnivores… something about being more likely to spread disease. Just one of the *many* reasons this is wrong.

    • danmac says:

      Yeah…another reason is the energy pyramid…each step you move up the food chain, you consume about ten times as much energy…so a lion eats a gazelle, which eats grass…in the end, the amount of energy (water, soil, etc…) in one pound of lion flesh is equal to the amount of energy it takes to grow 100 pounds of grass. Or at least that’s the general idea.

      This is why I hate cannibals.

    • OSAM says:

      Because carnivores, lions in particular, are generally at the top of the food chain, they tend to have higher concentrations of toxins, accumulated over generations over their prey. So, if grass is grown where the ground is radio active, and a herbivore eats that grass, it absorbs the properties of it. If the lion then eats the herbivore, it absorbs both the radioactivity of the grass as well as any that might have been pre-existing in the herbivore. If that lion is eaten by you… well you’re gonna glow.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      pretty sure that pigs eat anything

    • lockdog says:

      Hate to break it to you, but chickens are just like little velociraptors. They’ll eat anything they can get, and I have seen them go after snakes and mice, and even heard stories of roosters attacking hawks.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        yup, chickens are often recognized for pest control in urban environments. i’ve seen flyers up at my local library talking about raising chickens to eat the bugs in your yard.

  10. eccsame says:

    The big question is: what does it taste like?

    I had antelope for the first time last week and was surprised that it really wasn’t much different than steak. I would think that lion would taste about the same.

    • OSAM says:

      Camel, oddly enough, tastes very much like ham. Like pork. I would suspect that, as Lions are carnivorous, it would be very gamey.

    • freelunch says:

      I have found that many ‘exotic game’ meats are not that interesting and worth extra cash…

      deer is worth paying for (a common opionion), and goat is also very tasty (subject to taste) at an affordable price.

      I don’t monkey around with buffalo burgers and things like that any more, since the taste difference is minor and not worth the premium.
      I would be curious about the lion burger, but I would probably split it with one or two people to defray the cost.

      • dwtomek says:

        Wait people actually PAY for deer? Must be from a non-hunting state. Usually about half of my take ends up going to a local zoo. Not to say that I hate deer meat, it’s decent enough to eat for “free”, but I can’t imagine ever paying for the privilege. Are there deer farms somewhere where the deer actually taste decent or something?

        • MaxPower says:

          REally? There’s no market for venision where you live?

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            in my area, people are always trying to pass off the overage from hunting season. but then, we have white tails so abundant they are practically lawn ornaments even in town.

    • tungstencoil says:

      I’ve had kudu (a kind of antelope – tasty, ever so slightly gamy, less so than lamb even), springbok (awesome), ostrich (good except when it’s gamy, and in those cases it’s REALLY gamy), venison (good but quality varies a ton), pheasant (nom nom).

  11. sweaterhogans says:

    Here in Philly, there is an exotic meat store in the Italian market. They sell alligator, snake, ostrich, buffalo and sometimes lion. It is quite a creepy little place, and I bet if you know the secret code, you could get human meat here.

    • eccsame says:

      I thought the code was “Soylent Green”

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      we have a lot of those places here in Tennessee. In fact, most gas stations sell ostrich/alligator jerky.

    • mac-phisto says:

      buffalo isn’t really exotic – they sell that at supermarkets now.

      it makes an excellent substitute for cow. someone told me it’s because you can’t feed buffalo stock feed like cows – they only feed on grasses. i don’t know if that’s bullshit or not, but it tastes awesome.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      The secret code will get you human meat of those that guessed the secret code wrong.

  12. JohnDeere says:

    id eat that.

  13. Big Ant says:

    Here we have a Lion Burger, except it is not Lion meat, it is uncooked, raw, beef.

    • ElizabethD says:

      Did they have trouble spelling “steak tartare”?

      • Big Ant says:

        I don’t know, I was surprised the first time I saw someone eating one, but apparently here (Wisconsin) everyone but me knew about them.

  14. rpm773 says:

    I wouldn’t have any idea [where he gets the lions]… He has his sources, and I do not infringe on his business, just as he does not infringe on mine.

    So much for food traceability….

  15. ninabi says:

    Somebody’s going to figure out how to reduce the restaurant sized lion burgers to make their own sliders at home using, uh, a smaller feline…here kitty kitty.

    (Disclaimer- we own a cat and we feed, not feed upon, him)

  16. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I am having trouble figuring out what the big deal is. Is it illegal to eat them for some reason? Why does it matter where the meat comes from? Most people don’t ask where their burger is from when they’re at a restaurant.

    What’s the difference between eating a lion and any other animal?
    Hell, we eat pigs and they’re domesticated and intelligent.

    • mythago says:

      Hamburger comes from cows, which have a public and recognized production and distribution system in this country that involves such things as meat inspection. You may also have noticed that many restaurants promote the source of their meat (out here you see a lot of “Niman Ranch Beef on menus). Restaurant suppliers do not become coy and shifty and say things like “I get my beef from a leather supplier, the steaks are a byproduct, I don’t ask where he gets them.”

      So “where did my hamburger come from” is going to get you a) duh, an industrial beef processor off a feedlot, or b) a long pedigree of your specially raised beef.

      Lion is not a common food animal in the US and isn’t native here. People are therefore going to wonder about the source of lion meat and are going to be suspicious at somebody who refuses to reveal where he got it.

      I’m not sure why this was such a puzzler.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        There are a lot of uncommon meats that are eaten/sold here in the united states that no one has blown up about.
        My issue is with the original outrage about a man using lion meat – not the current outrage of the guy acting suspicious about where his meat is from.

        • mythago says:

          “Why does it matter where the meat comes from? Most people don’t ask where their burger is from when they’re at a restaurant” sure sounds like you have an issue with people wondering about the source.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I certainly don’t see why people would be more outraged at people eating lions than people eating buffalo or even cattle. It’s a little unique, but no matter what meat you are eating, it’s still a dead animal. What makes one more outragous than another unless it’s an endangered species?

    • divedeep says:

      “Most people don’t ask where their burger is from when they’re at a restaurant.”

      In my opinion, this is a huge problem in this country. People seem to almost not want to know where their food comes from. The truth is, big agriculture would not like you to know where your food comes from. That should bother everyone.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        yes and it proves this guys point:

        “I wouldn’t have any idea [where he gets the lions]… He has his sources, and I do not infringe on his business, just as he does not infringe on mine.

        Do you question where chickens come from when you go to Brown’s Chicken or Boston Market?”

  17. Salty Johnson says:

    Ligers are protected? They’re not a naturally-occurring species, so I don’t know how they could be protected.

    I’d eat a lion burger. I love exotic meats.

    • mythago says:

      YMMV. Having eaten a lot of exotic meats out of curiosity, it is pretty clear to me why we raise, say, cows, rather than alligator, for meat. Ick.

      • OSAM says:

        Other than the fact that it’s about a million times easier and yields considerably more meat?

        • mythago says:

          If alligator was as delicious as beef, I suspect that we would have aquaculture farms full of blunt-toothed gators.

          A lot of exotic meats are things that people eat to be able to say “I’ve eaten rattlesnake!” (or whatever) and not because they’re delicious.

          • Big Ant says:

            I don’t know about alligator but when I was in Australia I had crocodile chowder and it was delicious. Everyone else with me who had it said it tasted like bad chicken. But I can tell you it didn’t taste like chicken, and it wasn’t bad.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          if you ever make it to florida, go take a look at the pile of obese captive gators at gatorland. they could raise them for food and still charge people to come look at the chicken on a stick show. profit all around.
          http://i.pbase.com/u26/rmacalino/upload/43935003.GatorlandFlorida.JPG

  18. Hank Scorpio says:

    I haven’t been out that way in a while, but I grew up not far from Czimer’s, and we used to drive by there on our way out to Lockport when I was a kid. They did, at the time, have free range game out there, but it was llamas and buffalo and stuff like that, never anything like a lion (or even liger).

    I’m pretty sure they don’t have any free-range animals anymore. But, like I said, haven’t been by there in a long time.

  19. ianmac47 says:

    I only wish that a New York area restaurant was serving up lion burgers and lion steaks. Anyone hear of one that does?

  20. aloria says:

    HOLY CRAP A LION GET IN THE CAR

  21. tacitus59 says:

    Umm I tend to to eat land preditors … Not sure why liger’s would be protected – zoo’s sure don’t want them, because they are hybrids.

  22. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I have a guess where the lion meat comes from. Kenya.

    ‘coz they’ve got lions.

  23. smo0 says:

    All this reminds me of are the extremely rich people who pay to eat exotic animals and/or endangered species or have animals killed to make special ash trays or chop sticks….. Re: an episode of law and order SVU.

  24. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    See, I would have titled this “Eating RAWRoul.” That’s just me.

  25. rdking says:

    ive actually had lion before. at a restaurant called carnivores in nigeria.
    it wasnt bad

  26. El-Brucio says:

    I’m getting flashbacks from Zoo-no-more from Dilbert.

  27. Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

    Okay, maybe I’m dumb: a liger is a real animal? I thought this was made up in the movie Napoleon Dynamite. These creatures actually exist?

  28. JamieSueAustin says:

    Americans don’t, usually, as a culture, eat cats, so I find this a bit odd. Aside from that, we are talking about a food product, and though Boston Market can’t provide me with heraldry for each and every chicken, they can at least point me to the processing plant or distributorship, which could point me to the “farm” they came from. I find the whole thing shady and weird.

  29. jasonq says:

    Ecch. Besides the whole “threatened species” bit, two major reasons I wouldn’t eat lion meat are the toxins possible in the meat, and they’re a frickin’ obligate carnivore, and I gather that carnivorous animals’ meat isn’t all that tasty.

  30. zandar says:

    The dude obviously has a sliding scale as far as ethics are concerned. I don’t think i’d trust him. who knows what would be in those burgers.

    Plus, who gives a fuck if they are lion. What, will eating it give me super-strength? Is it worth killing lions to amuse bored westerners? What a waste.

  31. misslisa says:

    The lion meat aside, why the hell would you go to Mesa to eat anything? Of all the cities in Maricopa County where you could dine…