When Mufasa gave Simba that speech about the circle of life, he maybe should have included an extra warning about becoming lion jerky for some hungry folks in the U.S. Because apparently that is a thing.

Illinois Rep. Luis Arroyo wants to make eating lions illegal in his state, and the proposal is a lot more controversial than you might think. If passed, the Lion Meat Act would make it “”unlawful for any person to slaughter a lion or for any person to possess, breed, import or export from this State, buy, or sell lions for the purpose of slaughter.” Right now, eating lion is legal nationwide.

Burgers? Tacos? Snack sticks? Really?
Burgers? Tacos? Snack sticks? Really?
safaripartners

For a ban on eating a threatened species, Arroyo’s proposal is garnering a lot of criticism — and not just from the guy who runs the weird-meat store, though he’s certainly the most annoyed. Richard Czimer of Czimer’s Game & Seafood, Inc. (mm mm lion snack sticks and bear bacon!) told National Geographic that the ban is “trying to curtail a choice.” Of Arroyo: “He’s discriminating against all my customers and everybody who wants to try something new,” said Czimer, who was only able to buy two lousy lions last year.

Czimer, who was jailed for six months in 2003 for buying and selling illegal tiger and leopard meat, is mostly but not entirely alone in his love for lion, which also enjoys a bit of market share in Arizona. Other critics of the Lion Meat Act seem to be bothered by the big-government overreach of preventing people from eating threatened species. From Take Part:

“Most people would never even conceive of eating lion meat,” said Kristina Rasmussen, vice president of the Illinois Policy Institue. “If this is a problem—and I’m not convinced that it is—surely it can be solved by civil action and community consensus and open debate. Do we have to rush in with a law, especially when we have so many other problems right in front of our face?”

Yeah, ‘cuz when did laws ever make things better? More from NatGeo:

“[E]ating carnivores is mostly not a good idea,” argued Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, a U.S. based wild-cat conservation group …

For one, carnivore populations worldwide are dwindling—the African lion is listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and is endangered in certain West African countries.

Though wild lions aren’t killed for food, there’s concern that weak or poorly regulated laws regarding the ownership, breeding, and trade of captive big cats in the U.S.—in particular tigers—could fuel the black market for big-cat parts, Will Gartshore, senior program officer for U.S. Government Relations at WWF, said in an email.

So, sorry: Legal or not, big cats aren’t the best burger choice. But if you’re interested in some other adventurous meat-eating, BuyExoticMeats.com is currently having a sale on its “Exotic Meat Club” monthly package. October is the “Manager’s Special”! Yum, cross your fingers for some big cats!

If you were skeeved out by the idea of horse meat — which is harder to get in the U.S. than lion — do not click on that link. And if you care about the environment, or still have a special place in your heart for baby Simba (who doesn’t?), might I recommend a black bean patty, or an invasive species?