Last week, a Northern California restaurant was in hot water for serving lion meat. The East Bay restaurant, Mokutanya, also features peacock, iguana, deer, alligator, and kangaroo on its menu. But they bit off more than they could chew when they branched out to lion meat. Owner Jason Li Mokutanya purchased the carcass of an African lion from an Illinois processor and posted news of the dish on Facebook, unleashing a public uproar. The restaurant has now pulled the item off their menu.
Lion Meat on the Rise
Sales of lion "meat" (and the flesh of other exotic animals) are on the rise at restaurants across the U.S., as well as butcher shops and farmers markets. From a New York café to a Kansas restaurant, a pub in Philly and a bistro in Mesa, Arizona, lion has become a dish du jour, to the horror of animal lovers.
Where does this flesh come from? Eickman's Processing in Seward, IL is one of 16 slaughterhouses that process exotic animal carcasses, but is the only one that processes lion flesh. The company has admitted to selling the carcasses of tigers, lions, and mountain lions as "lion meat" at a profit of almost $40,000.
What's wrong with slaughtering captive lions and selling lion meat? To start, the U.S. trade in lion meat reflects the problems in our nation's treatment of exotic animals. With little real regulatory oversight from the FDA or USDA, the meat is largely uninspected. As with U.S. industrial agriculture in cows, pigs, and poultry, the contamination of antibiotics and other drugs in the animal flesh is not clearly identified, or monitored.
What's Wrong with Eating Lions?
How would we react if someone tried to eat Tony, the Bengal tiger confined for 13 years at a Louisiana truck stop that ALDF is working so hard to free? We call cows and pigs "beef" and "pork" so we don't have to think about the fact that they're sentient beings. Eating a predator like a lion destroys that illusion.
Are we equally outraged by the slaughter of other animals? There has been quite a stir about the presence of horsemeat sold on the black market, as in our landmark Florida backyard-slaughter case, or showing up in cow burgers. But why aren't more people upset about the cows?
- 10 billion farmed land animals are killed every year in the U.S.; nearly 65 billion worldwide.
- Americans eat 270.7 pounds of meat per person a year, more than almost any other country.
- We have highest risk of heart disease, which is directly linked to consumption of animal protein.
- Animal agriculture—killing animals for meat on industrial farms—is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses and climate change.
Is the Lion Meat Trade Breaking the Law?
It is unlikely that all lion brokers possess the proper USDA permits required by law to possess big cats in Illinois. Furthermore, if lions are transported out of state by brokers without proper licenses, they may be violating the federal Captive Wildlife Safety Act.
Lions are not protected by the federal Humane Slaughter Act, which requires animals to be rendered insensible to pain prior to slaughter. Many states have no laws governing the care and treatment of captive exotic animals. This failure not only allows the inhumane slaughter of sentient animals, but shameful conditions in roadside zoos, traveling shows, and private ownership.
Although considered "threatened," lions are not protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) either. This is one reason it's still legal to sell lions, hold them captive, and serve them in restaurants. But animal advocates are working hard to fight this trade on the state and federal level.
Lions need better laws. The public outcry, and the removal of lion meat from Mokutanya's menu, shows us that citizen voices are heard! Please support bill HB 2991, the Lion Meat Act, which would ban the slaughter and sale of lion meat for human consumption. Spread the word!
The number one health crisis of our time could well be the potential nightmare of "Superbugs"—infectious bacteria immune to antibiotics. On factory farms across the nation, animals are receiving antibiotics they don't need to pre-empt illnesses that would otherwise run rampant in the dirty, intensely crowded confinement (Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) in which the vast majority of animals are raised for food.
The rise of Superbugs has been linked to the routine feeding of antibiotics to animals on factory farms. In addition to preventing disease, the drugs are also used to promote rapid hormonal growth, meaning less need to feed animals, thus saving producers money. Factory farms are responsible for more than 10 billion land animals slaughtered in the U.S. every year. Along with the unimaginable suffering of animals and the horrors of intensive confinement, humans are at risk from the resulting superbugs. These bacteria mean a simple case of strep throat could become fatal.
Remember the controversy over "pink slime" in cow meat? The public was shocked to learn that the ag industry was selling animal scraps (usually discarded or used only in pet food) to our public schools, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants. This repulsive concoction was privy to bacteria like E. coli, so ammonia was added to fight the bacteria. Other recent revelations within the factory farming industry have included feeding candy to cows because proper food is expensive, confining pregnant pigs to cruel gestation crates, mutilating birds and cramming them into dark spaces the size of a piece of paper.
ALDF has tackled animal cruelty on factory farms in innovative legal actions against A & L Poultry, Cal Cruz Hatcheries, Corc Pork, Tyson Foods, to name a few. We've also filed petitions with the FDA to minimize the amount of the dangerous drug "ractopamine" added to animal feed, and to regulate deceptive labels on egg packaging. By combatting the cruelty and deception of factory farms, you can help us fight a massive chunk of animal cruelty. It is also one of the largest threats to public health in our time. As Americans, we demand greater public transparency.
This is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has petitioned the USDA to put labels on meat and poultry containing antibiotics. Millions of animals are suffering and as many consumers are unaware of the risks posed by the failure to accurately label food products. Please contact the USDA and ask them to support our petition to label meat and poultry containing antibiotics.
The corporate agriculture industry has responded by seeking to hide these problems from the public. Across the country, the industry is lobbying to pass "ag gag" laws that would cloak abuses on factory farms in secrecy. Not requiring the agricultural industry to disclose its use of antibiotics to consumers is just one more way factory farms get away with harming animals and putting the public at risk. We need the USDA to act.
The public has a right to know about antibiotic use on factory farms. The potential to make animals sick, human and nonhuman alike, is catastrophic. The secrecy of factory farms, whose critically dangerous practices, deception, and cruelty jeopardize the safety of animals and of consumers, has run its course. The public is fed up with this corporate world in which abusers profit and the rest of us suffer.
Take Action to Prevent Antibiotic Superbugs by contacting the USDA today! Demand that the USDA require labeling of antibiotic use!
Please call your U.S. Senators right away and urge them to vote NO on the "Grassley CAFO Amendment" to the 2013 Farm Bill. Then call your U.S. Representative and demand that Steve King's "Protect Interstate Commerce Amendment" be stripped from the House's version of the 2013 Farm Bill.
Grassley's Farm Bill Amendment
Yesterday Senator Charles Grassley R-IA, offered a harmful amendment to the Farm Bill in the U.S. Senate. Taking Ag-Gag to a federal agency level, Grassley's language would directly prevent the EPA from collecting the vital data & information it needs about CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) in order to fulfill its mandate to protect our nation's water supply. CAFOs are massive point sources of water contamination due to the roughly 500 million tons of manure they generate each year (more than triple the amount of annual U.S. human waste)!
CAFOs remain largely unregulated in this country, as exposed by an alarming GAO report entitled "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: US EPA Needs More Information and a Clearly Defined Strategy to Protect Air and Water Quality from Pollutants of Concern." In fact, no governmental entity even knows how many CAFOs exist or where they all are located. This information is also crucial to ensuring that such facilities are complying with animal welfare standards. Preferring to let CAFOs operate hidden from the view of agencies that enforce our public safety laws, Grassley even wants to prevent the EPA from using aircraft to investigate dangerous Ag-related pollution spills! While the language of the Grassley amendment is intentionally vague enough to mask its full, potential effect, experts have determined that it further could prevent the EPA from sharing key data with other federal agencies, such as the USDA, FDA, or the Department of Justice during law enforcement investigations.
Ag(ency) gag indeed!
King's Farm Bill Amendment
Last Wednesday, just days before Sen. Grassley offered his CAFO amendment, his Iowa counterpart in the U.S. House, Rep. Steve King R-IA, added another devastating amendment to its version of the Farm Bill––one that would outrageously prevent states from setting their own animal welfare & food safety standards! By forbidding states from applying their domestic safety & welfare regulations to ANY agricultural product that originates elsewhere, the King amendment would immediately end the California Foie Gras ban, jeopardize state nutritional requirements, and nullify CA's Prop 2 & other such ballot initiatives where voters have spoken to demand better treatment for the animals whose products are sold within their own state borders.
The King amendment inevitably would create a "race to the bottom" whereby the most abusive and dangerous rules in the country would become de facto national standards––since producers "doing it on the cheap" in one state always would undercut the prices of domestic producers in those states that care more about public health and animal welfare.
Don't let these Iowa Agribusiness apologists allow their special-interest, industry funders to dictate the health, safety & welfare standards of your own state. Call your Congressional delegates today!
We did it! Together, you and other animal advocates helped us reach our goal of 50,000 signatures on our citizen's petition to ban foie gras.
Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund is sending these signatures along with a formal appeal we filed Friday our lawsuit against the USDA for allowing diseased foie gras into the human food supply. In this lawsuit, we are joined by Farm Sanctuary, Compassion Over Killing, and the Animal Protection and Rescue League.
Foie gras is the pathologically diseased liver of ducks and geese, who have been stuffed so full of food their livers expand to eight or more times their natural size. Ouch! This means that eating foie gras puts consumers at serious health risks for conditions like secondary amyloidosis, and who wants to eat diseased food at gourmet prices?
But foie gras also means hell for animals. A bird raised for foie gras endures daily force-feedings through a thick pipe crammed down his throat, so that colossal amounts of grain can be pumped into his stomach. He is likely to suffer infections, painful wounds to his beak and throat, and it is extremely likely that he will be so uncomfortable and top heavy his legs won't be able to hold him or allow him to move normally. If he gets sick, he may be simply tossed onto a trash heap. If he lives, he'll be gutted and his liver sold as pate.
ALDF is not the only one who thinks force-fed foie gras is cruel and inhumane. In fact, foie gras has not only been banned in the state of California—it is banned in over a dozen nations around the world. It's time for the USDA, the federal agency in charge of regulating the food supply, to ban foie gras once and for all—to protect animals and consumers.
We boxed up the signatures and they are ready to ship!
Read more about ALDF's fight against cruelly produced foie gras.
- Sign the petition!
- Landmark victory for ALDF in Foie Gras Lawsuit
- Read the press release about the Hudson Valley Foie Gras lawsuit.
- Read the press release about the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets lawsuit.
- Download a high-resolution version of the foie gras infographic for your blog or website.
- ALDF Sues La Toque Restaurant for Violating California's Ban on Force-Fed Foie Gras
- Stephen Wells Explains ALDF's Lawsuit against Napa Restaurant
- Updates in ALDF v. HVFG "Humane" False Advertising Lawsuit
While being interviewed by reporters after the tornado that struck Oklahoma City, a woman unexpectedly found her lost dog in the rubble. In the midst of a tragedy such as this it's heartwarming to remember what matters most is being close to the ones we love. Our thoughts go out to the victims of this tragedy, both human and nonhuman. Watch this YouTube video and share with your friends and family.
- List yourself as "safe and well" if you were in the affected area.
- Check Lost and Found Pets in the OKC Metro Area
- Facebook group to help people locate pets, OK Pets
- Put a collar on your dog, and find a pet friendly hotel to stay in.
- Learn more about disaster planning for pets.
- Lessons from previous disasters.