Does USDA Regulate Lion Meat?

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No One Is Telling Where Lion Meat Originates

and the government doesn’t seem to care.  Big Cat Rescue believes that the cute little cubs that are used in pay to play schemes at malls, fairs and in backyard menageries are ending up killed for their meat when they are grown.  No one uses lion hides so it is preposterous for this vendor to claim that it is merely a by product of that industry (as if that made it OK in the first place.)

Lion meat is not regulated by USDA

Lion meat is not regulated by USDA

A genuine burger made from lion meat is being served by Il Vinaio restaurant in Mesa, Ariz., in honor of the World Cup being hosted in Africa. As animal activists gather their poster board and magic markers for a protest tonight, CNN did the important work; tracking down where the actual lion meat came from. It is not, evidently, from a “free-range lion farm in Illinois that is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture,” as Il Vinaio owner Cameron Selogie has claimed.
According to CNN, the USDA doesn’t inspect or regulate lion meat. And the shipment actually came from a company called Czimer’s Game & Sea Foods, a butcher shop just outside of Chicago, whose owner has served a six-month prison sentence for selling meat from federally protected tigers and leopards.
Video following the jump.
From CNN:

Czimer’s website advertises standard wild game: pheasants, quail, ducks, venison, buffalo and so on. But then, sprinkled through the product list, some wilder offerings pop up. Like llama leg roasts. Or camel cutlets.

And African lion meat. You can snag it in shoulder roast, steak, tenderloin or burger form — or, for a bargain, try the ribs at $10 a pound.

So where does Richard Czimer, the company’s owner, get these lions?

The meat is the byproduct of a skinning operation owned by another man, Czimer said in an interview with CNNMoney.com. He declined to name that gentleman.

“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,” he said.

And where does that mystery man get the lions? “I wouldn’t have any idea,” said Czimer, who operates a small retail store in addition to his wholesale business. “He has his sources, and I do not infringe on his business, just as he does not infringe on mine.”

He’s willing to take a hands-off approach: “Do you question where chickens come from when you go to Brown’s Chicken or Boston Market?” he asked.

Czimer’s exotic-meat dealings have landed him in hot water before. Back in 2003, Chicago newspapers covered his conviction and six-month prison sentence for selling meat from federally protected tigers and leopards. Czimer admitted to purchasing the carcasses of 16 tigers, four lions, two mountain lions and one liger — a tiger-lion hybrid — which were skinned, butchered and sold as “lion meat,” for a profit of more than $38,000.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — A small Arizona restaurant found itself at the center of a nationwide backlash that included a bomb threat after it announced plans to offer lion burgers this week as part of a World Cup promotion.

But following the supply chain back to the mom-and-pop butcher that processed the alleged lion meat turns up an even more bizarre tale.

The story started when Cameron Selogie, owner of Il Vinaio restaurant in Mesa, Ariz., bought about 10 pounds of so-called African lion meat, planning to mix it with ground beef to make burgers honoring the FIFA World Cup’s South African location. Selogie sent an e-mail newsletter to his restaurant’s patrons advertising the special.

That newsletter — which was the sole publicity Selogie had planned — exploded into a media blitz when one of the e-mail recipients turned out to be an animal activist.

She spread word to a local TV station, and the news has since circled the globe, even garnering a brief write-up in the online version of London’s Daily Telegraph.

Lion burgers are an attention-grabbing idea, but it raises the question: How, exactly, does an Arizona restaurant manage to get its hands on African lion meat?

Welcome to the mysterious world of back-alley exotic meat purveyance.

Selogie said he bought the meat through a Phoenix distributor, Gourmet Imports-Wild Game — a one-man operation owned by Rick Worrilow. Selogie says he did his research, and was told that the meat came from a free-range farm in Illinois that is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Worrilow, who essentially serves as a middleman between farms, meat processors and restaurants, also said the meat came from a completely legal plant in Illinois. And even though he didn’t know the name of that plant, Worrilow said he was confident that the meat was inspected by federal regulators.

So where’s this supposed African lion farm in Illinois?

Well, here’s one clue: When the meat arrived at Il Vinaio on Tuesday evening, Selogie said it came in packaging with the name “Czimer’s Game & Sea Foods.”

Czimer isn’t a free-range farm. It’s a butcher shop located just outside of Chicago in Homer Glen, Ill.

Lions, ligers and bears …

Czimer’s website advertises standard wild game: pheasants, quail, ducks, venison, buffalo and so on. But then, sprinkled through the product list, some wilder offerings pop up. Like llama leg roasts. Or camel cutlets.

And African lion meat. You can snag it in shoulder roast, steak, tenderloin or burger form — or, for a bargain, try the ribs at $10 a pound.

So where does Richard Czimer, the company’s owner, get these lions?

The meat is the byproduct of a skinning operation owned by another man, Czimer said in an interview with CNNMoney.com. He declined to name that gentleman.

“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,” he said.

And where does that mystery man get the lions? “I wouldn’t have any idea,” said Czimer, who operates a small retail store in addition to his wholesale business. “He has his sources, and I do not infringe on his business, just as he does not infringe on mine.”

He’s willing to take a hands-off approach: “Do you question where chickens come from when you go to Brown’s Chicken or Boston Market?” he asked.

Czimer’s exotic-meat dealings have landed him in hot water before. Back in 2003, Chicago newspapers covered his conviction and six-month prison sentence for selling meat from federally protected tigers and leopards. Czimer admitted to purchasing the carcasses of 16 tigers, four lions, two mountain lions and one liger — a tiger-lion hybrid — which were skinned, butchered and sold as “lion meat,” for a profit of more than $38,000.

His supply chain may be murky, but like the Arizona restaurateur and the meat salesman, he expressed total certainty that his lion meat is USDA-approved and thoroughly inspected by regulators before it reaches his processing plant.

But here’s a twist: The USDA says it doesn’t inspect lions bred for meat. That’s the job of the Food and Drug Administration.

Is it legal to eat lions? Yes, according to the FDA’s communications team. The African lion isn’t currently a federally protected endangered species and it qualifies as a game meat, FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said in an e-mail.

While the African lion is not considered endangered by U.S. regulators, it is classified as “threatened” by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an international protection agreement.

As for Czimer, his shop is officially registered with the FDA and has been inspected by state regulators, Heardon said.

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Selogie is taking the protests in stride. He plans to have bins of ice water outside for picketers who brave Arizona’s 100-degree heat to protest as he serves up the burgers on Wednesday and Thursday night.

“I do feel bad that people are so concerned about this. But for most people, this is the king of the jungle and that’s the only reason they can give me for their concern,” he said. “We’re not doing anything to endanger the species.” To top of page

Today at Big Cat Rescue June 19 2013

Today at Big Cat Rescue June 19 2013

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Joseph the lion with toy Cylinder

 

Say NO to Farm Bill

In a disappointing late-night move, the House leadership refused to allow debate on any animal welfare amendments when the Farm Bill goes to the full House. Bipartisan amendments on horse slaughter, horse soring, and protecting egg-laying hens were left out of consideration, while the dangerous, overreaching “King Amendment” remains in the Farm Bill. The King Amendment seeks to repeal state laws regarding agriculture production and could nullify measures on farm animal confinement, horse slaughter, puppy mills, shark finning, and a wide range of other concerns including food safety, child labor and the environment.

This provision is so potentially harmful, and with no amendment or debate allowed to consider the King provision on the House floor, we must now stop the entire Farm Bill in its tracks.

It is critical for every member of the House to hear from concerned advocates like you today. Please make a brief, polite phone call to your rep.  Find their contact info here:  http://catlaws.com

 

http://www.bigcatrescue.biz/

 

 

News-CNN-May-31-2013

Today at Big Cat Rescue June 17 2013

Today at Big Cat Rescue June 17 2013

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Tigers For Tigers Coalition Update

 

Tigers at Big Cat Rescue

Tigers at Big Cat Rescue

The National T4T Coalition has been very productive since the conference in April. So far we have developed and sent letters to our congressmen asking for their support for H.R.1998. We also developed an informational sheet on the influence of crime syndicates on wildlife trade.

Last week, members of the coalition were in Washington DC with David Houghton of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Tracy Coppola of the International Fund for Animal Welfare to meet with congress to discuss a variety of initiatives. We worked with the National Wildlife Refuge Association to ask congress to support the Multinational Species Conservation Fund of the USFWS’s Wildlife Without Borders program by transferring $50 million from USAID to FWS to combat wildlife trafficking and trade throughout the world. We met with members of the senate appropriations committee and others. It was a great success and everything was well received.

We also asked for their support to re-authorize the Save Vanishing Species stamp of the U.S. postal service to supplement conservation efforts. We worked with Tracy to ask support for the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act and met with senators of Louisiana, South Carolina, Missouri and Maryland. From my impressions, the staffers were willing to consider the bill and were going to report all of our concerns and asks to their boss. Pete Stone, our film director, attended the trip to DC as well and is currently producing a documentary of our efforts.

We are currently working on a social media campaign for the summer months. The goals of the social media campaign is to provide information on tiger conservation and their issues, take action by providing our facebook friends with links to make a difference, and increase our recruitment for the upcoming academic year. We will be working with USFWS to promote the Save Vanishing Species Stamp, NWRA in support of the Multinational Species Conservation Fund and IFAW and Big Cat Rescue on the Big Cats bill.

We just received a new school on board the national coalition, the University of West Alabama. We look forward to collaborating with them soon. The coalition is now working to collaborate on local initiatives that they can implement at their own schools in their own capacity.

Please Like and Follow us at the following links to stay up to date on our progress.

 

https://www.facebook.com/t4tcoalition

 

https://twitter.com/T4T_Coalition

 

Thank you, Sean Carnell #NT4TC

 

 

Today at Big Cat Rescue June 17 2013

White tiger Zabu in the pool

Lion Population Drops by Two Thirds in 50 Years

Lion Population Drops by Two Thirds in 50 Years

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DeclineOfBigCats50Years

Africa’s lion population plummets by two thirds in 50 years

 

Nickson Parmisa / Wildlife Direct

This lioness was killed on June 20, 2012, along with her sister and four cubs in Sholinge, Kenya, just outside Nairobi National Park. The lionesses had gone into a cattle area to teach the cubs to hunt.

By Miguel Llanos, NBC News

Africa’s lions are running out of habitat and some populations, especially those in West Africa, are running toward extinction, according to a study published Tuesday.

Using new satellite data, a research team at Duke University found that about 75 percent of Africa’s savannahs were fragmented by farmers and other development in the last 50 years.

“Only 25 percent remains of an ecosystem that once was a third larger than the continental United States,” co-author Stuart Pimm, a Duke conservation ecology professor, said in a statement issued with the study.

“The situation in West Africa is particularly dire,” the experts wrote, noting that human populations have doubled there over the last three decades. Fewer than 500 lions remain in West Africa, the study estimated.

The team and a panel of lion experts used the savannah data to refine estimates of lion populations, which had ranged between 20,000 and 40,000 across Africa. Their estimate: 32,000 lions remain, down from an estimated 100,000 in 1960.

“Given that many now live in small, isolated populations, this trend will continue,” the experts wrote in the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

“Lions are not going to go extinct, but they are indeed going extinct locally,” Pimm told NBC News. “Those in West Africa are in particularly bad shape. It would be tragic if one could see lions only in a couple of places in Africa.”

The study estimates that more than 6,000 lions are in populations that have “a very high risk of local extinction.”

Only nine African countries have at least 1,000 lions, and five have likely lost all their lions since a 2002 study, the experts said. The biggest stronghold is in Tanzania, which has more than 40 percent of all African lions as well as a strong conservation program.

National Geographic, which funded the study, hopes to use the results to plan where to focus on saving lions.

“The research will help us better identify areas in which we can make a difference,” said study co-author Luke Dollar, a former graduate student of Pimm’s and now the grants director at National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.

The study estimated that some 24,000 lions are in “strongholds” — particularly within national parks, where ecotourism can protect the animals while creating local jobs.

But even that designation isn’t a guarantee, noted Pimm. “Some large parks in West Africa have lost all their lions and essentially all of their wildlife,” he said. “There has to be a political commitment to protect wildlife and, of course, a recognition that viewing wildlife can bring in substantial revenues.”

Stuart Pimm

This high fence was built to protect cattle from lions.

A secondary problem is that “lions go beyond the national parks, straying onto land where people live,” Pimm said. “The difficulty is to prevent the conflicts that occur when lions take livestock, typically at night.”

The Duke team also works with National Geographic and others to mitigate those conflicts — one approach is to build higher livestock fences. The goal, Pimm said, is to “protect livestock from lions and so stop the need for people to retaliate.”

The study follows a move last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study whether to list African lions under the Endangered Species Act. The biggest impact of a listing would be to bar U.S. hunters from bringing back any lion trophies from Africa, where some countries with healthy populations allow legal hunts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/04/15671643-africas-lion-population-plummets-by-two-thirds-in-50-years-study-finds?lite

 

Study: Lion ranges, populations dropping in Africa

Matt Craft
The lions that roam Africa’s savannahs have lost as much as 75 percent of their habitat in the last 50 years as humans overtake their land and the lion population dwindles, said a study released by researchers at Duke University Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Matthew Craft-file)

JON GAMBRELL , The Associated Press

POSTED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 7:17 AM

JOHANNESBURG – The lions that roam Africa’s savannahs have lost as much as 75 percent of their habitat in the last 50 years as humans overtake their land and the lion population dwindles, said a study released Tuesday.

 

Researchers at Duke University, including prominent conservationist Stuart Pimm, warn that the number of lions across the continent have dropped to as few as 32,000, with populations in West Africa under incredible pressure.

 

“Lion numbers have declined precipitously in the last century,” the study, published Tuesday by the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, reads. “Given that many now live in small, isolated populations, this trend will continue. The situation in West Africa is particularly dire, with no large population remaining and lions now absent from many of the region’s national parks.”

 

Fifty years ago, nearly 100,000 lions roamed across the African continent. In recent years, however, an ever-growing human population has come into the savannah lands to settle and develop. That has both cut down the amount of land lions have to roam, as well as fragmented it, researchers said.

 

Using satellite imagery, the researchers determined the amount of land now available for lions that remains wild and minimally impacted by human growth. Those lands are rapidly diminishing, and more territory will likely be lost in the next 40 years, the report said.

 

Five countries in Africa have likely lost their lions since a 2002 study was run, the report said. Only nine countries contain at least 1,000 lions, while Tanzania alone has more than 40 percent of the continent’s lions, it said.

 

“An obvious caveat is that areas for which we detect little conversion of savannahs to croplands may still suffer human impacts that make them unsuitable for lions,” the report said. “Over-hunting for trophies, poaching , of lions and of their prey species , and conflict with pastoralists may not have any visual signal to satellites. Even where there are low human population densities and areas designated as national parks, there (may) not be lions within them.”

 

The report calls for more mapping and studying to be done to ensure the lions’ protection.

 

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20121204_ap_studylionrangespopulationsdroppinginafrica.html

 

 

Today at Big Cat Rescue May 24 2013

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FunNights

Dear Florida Animal Advocates,

This year’s state legislative session wound to a close earlier this month, and I wanted to thank you for all you did to give animals a voice in the Florida Legislature.

You made phone calls, sent emails, and many of you even met with your legislators in person during Florida Humane Lobby Day to let them know that you care about animal welfare. And your efforts paid off! The Legislature passed a bill (H.B. 851) that:

  • makes animal fighting offenses punishable under Florida’s anti-racketeering law, which helps law enforcement crack down on this brutal blood sport;
  • specifies that a person who commits multiple acts of animal cruelty may be charged with separate offenses for each cruel act; and
  • reenacts Florida’s ban on the artificial coloring of rabbits and chicks and prohibits the sale of these baby animals.

We sincerely thank the representatives and senators who made certain this legislation passed into law, with special thanks owed to Representative Jared Moskowitz of Broward County for his leadership. This new law is absolutely an improvement, but our work is far from complete!

Next year, a major focus will be ending dog racing through the decoupling of Greyhound racing from other forms of gambling. Right now, Florida law requires businesses with gambling licenses to also operate Greyhound tracks. This forced union of two unrelated forms of gambling makes no sense and inflicts unnecessary cruelty on Greyhounds, who spend their racing lives confined cruelly, suffer terrible injuries, and often are killed once they are no longer profitable.

Please contact your legislators now to let them know that you strongly oppose the cruel practice of dog racing. Making contact now, when they are not totally immersed in the legislative session, will help set the stage for humane action in 2014!

Again, thank you so much for your efforts to protect animals in this great state. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish for animals next year.

Until next time,
Ann Church
Ann Church, ASPCA
Vice President, State Affairs

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Today at Big Cat Rescue May 24 2013

Lions Threatened or Protected Species

Lions Threatened or Protected Species

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Lions Need Your Voice Now!

 

We have until 15th June 2013 to give input on the proposed new TOPS regulations.

If you wish to give input, and you’d like us to help lions, please send a quick and easy letter here:  http://catlaws.com

 

CANNED LION HUNTING AND THE NEW TOPS REGULATIONS

 

lion

 

The Department of the Environment has published amendments to the Threatened or Protected Species( TOPS) regulations (and given the public 60 days to file comment. 60 days ending 15th June 2013.) Campaign Against Canned Hunting, the NGO that has spent more than a decade exposing the abuses of lion farming and canned lion hunting, has extracted from the 101 page document those provisions that affect lions and comments upon them below.

Main Criticism:-

If the TOPS regulations are intended to protect biodiversity, then they can accurately be described as cosmetic, misdirected and irrelevant. Canned lion hunting is an industry whose whole business model violates the Animals Protection Act of 1962. Imagine the public outcry if livestock farmers allowed hunters to come on to their land and use their sheep or cattle for target practice. There would be a public boycott of S.A. meat and meat products. Consumers would be up in arms. Yet the TOPS regulations wrongly assume that canned hunting (the use of livestock for target practice) is not illegal – and then provides some cosmetic restrictions, when it ought to be banning the whole lion farming industry.

2. Proposed amendments to the TOPS regulations seek to stop the current abuses of shooting arrows into elephant and rhino – but bow hunters may continue to shoot their arrows into lions, leopards, and buffalo.

3. Lion farms will no longer be permitted to let hunters shoot tame lions in their enclosures, or even in an ‘adjacent’ camp, but so long as the target animal is moved out of its enclosure and in to the next-but-one camp, hunters are free to shoot as many arrows or bullets as they wish in to their living target. See how cosmetic this is: how is biodiversity affected whether the tame lion is shot in this camp or that? Who cares?

4. There are other meaningless restrictions listed in the TOPS regulations. For example, hunters may only set a pack of dogs on to a tame lion if it has been wounded first.

It is quite possible that even these feeble and inadequate ‘protections’ are invalid and unenforceable. The Supreme Court of Appeal has already determined that lion farming is ‘a closed circuit’ which has nothing to do with conservation. The industry therefore falls outside the jurisdiction of the department of the Environment, and in the purview of the department of Agriculture.

So, just as Minister van Schalkwyk’s attempt to impose a 24- month wilding rule upon lion farmers was held to be outside his powers, so even the pretence of protective conditions described above can be struck down by the courts. I have posted a blog explaining why I think that the Supreme Court judgment is wrong, and that lion farming very much threatens conservation of wild lions.

http://www.cannedlion.org/content/mero-motu-and-extinction-lions-southern-africa

 

In any event, collapsing provincial conservation structures do not have the capacity to monitor compliance.

 

The TOPS regulations ought to be about protecting biodiversity. But when it comes to lion farming, there is only one provision that is remotely related to biodiversity; one which seeks to ban the current practice of capturing wild lions. (Lion breeders need to introduce fresh blood into captive lion populations to combat captivity depression and inbreeding.)

 

By facilitating lion farming and canned hunting, the TOPS regulations show how irrelevant government has become. Government has become background noise and change will have to come from civil society. The TOPS regulations are not worth the paper they are printed on.

 

Conservationists must come together to get the USA and Europe to ban the import of lion trophies, and to persuade the public not to indulge in cub-petting or to volunteer at lion farms posing as ‘wildlife sanctuaries.’

Only when the flow of dollars has been cut off will this evil industry finally be brought to an end.

 

*For a more detailed look at the relevant sections of the TOPS regulations, go to http://www.cannedlion.org/content/tops-regulations-proposed-amendments-affect-lions

 

We get so many requests for our presentation on canned lion breeding in South Africa that we have posted a copy to Dropbox. Anyone can watch it and download it from here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e2pwtrq6hrwmiso/CACH%20presentation%205%20min.avi

 

Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan

Campaign Against Canned Hunting, Sec 21 NGO

www.cannedlion.org

Co-authors of:

Kalahari Dream www.kalahari-dream.com

For the love of Wildlife www.fortheloveofwildlife.com