Jan. 25, 2011— -- An Arizona restaurant that serves exotic fare will forgo a plan to serve lion-meat tacos, citing safety concerns and following threats from angry protestors.
Bryan Mazon, owner of Boca Tacos y Tequila, a Tucson Tex-Mex joint that in the past has served alligator, python and turtle tacos, announced via Facebook that the restaurant will pull the plug on a planned February promotion to sell tacos made from farm-raised African lions.
"Due to concern for safety of our families, customers, vendors, and friends we will not be selling African Lion Tacos on Feb. 16th, 2011. We will continue to bring unique and creative menu items, but not at the expense of safety," Mazon said.
In the week since the restaurant announced its plan, animal rights groups and activists have protested the restaurant's decision to serve lion, a rare but legal delicacy.
When Mazon first announced the promotion, he told ABCNews.com he had received " more calls to tell me to go to hell and drop dead," than actual orders but planned to keep lion on the menu because "there's interest out there."
At the time Mazon said the criticism would not deter him from serving the tacos, but according to the Associated Press he was bowed by "threats."
Calls made to the restaurant Tuesday morning were not answered.
Mazon had planned to purchase the lion meat from a California farm he said raises the animals for meat.
The announcement sparked online complaints on the restaurant's Facebook page, but some of the protests focused on the erroneous assumption that lions are an endangered species, making lion meat illegal.
"Lions are not endangered," said Crawford Allan, regional director for TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring program administered by the World Wildlife Foundation. "When bred in captivity, their meat is allowed to be traded. There are particular operations in the U.S. that are breeding lions, butchering them and selling them for meat."
Mazon planned to served meat from lions raised legally for consumption on a California farm.