It's creating a roar among customers and critics alike: Lion meat is the latest item to land on tortillas at South Tampa's 'Taco Fusion' restaurant.
"Our whole thought process of bringing the exotic meats to the Tampa Bay area was to give people the opportunity to try things they normally wouldn't get to try," explained restaurant manager Brad Barnett.
The dish isn't for the faint of heart when it comes to your taste buds or your budget -- A pound of the meat costs about $220, so just one taco will take a $35 bite out of your wallet.
"Nothing like eating a predator to make you feel like a predator, I guess," one customer offered.
"It tastes kind of like venison and the texture is like gator," another said.
The restaurant calls it exotic. But some animal activists say it's exploitation.
"I think it's appalling," stated Jeff Kremer of Tampa's Big Cat Rescue. "I think we, as a society, have to define what we find morally and ethically acceptable."
Big Cat Rescue says lions aren't endangered, so they aren't protected as well as other animals. They say the exotic meat industry is booming and the USDA still hasn't caught up.
"Nobody's really tracking this. So the assumption is most of the lion meat is coming out of Illinois. They're meat vendors. They're not USDA regulated as some of these facilities would like you to believe," Kremer continued.
Taco Fusion's menu definitely doesn't read like your average Mexican joint. Aside from the lion meat, they sell shark, rattlesnake, and even kangaroo tacos.
Taco Fusion says they get the lion's meat from major vendors right here in the U.S.
Staff members say they have received violent threats about serving the lion meat. They briefly debated taking it off the menu altogether, but they decided to stick with it.
They say as long as there's a demand, the lion tacos will stay.
"If you don't like it, change the channel, as they would say on the TV show," Barnett added. "We have as much right for everybody to try it as you have as much right to say that you don't like it."
Originally reported by MyFoxTampaBay.com: http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/22197841/2013/05/08/lion-meat-tacos-controversy