How to Cook a Lion

lion tamer costume via

. It is perfectly legal to buy and cook lion.
It is perfectly legal to buy and cook lion.
Let’s leave aside the question of why for the moment.

It’s illegal to sell wild, hunted game in the U.S., and of course anything on the endangered species list is federally protected. But the laws are full of loopholes and exceptions that make it legal to buy everything from camel to zebra to black bear. Some animals, like yak, are farmed. Small game, like raccoons and beavers, can’t be hunted for meat, but they can be trapped for fur; confoundingly, that meat can be legally sold. Lions generally come to the market from circuses and zoos. When the animals are too old to breed or show, they can be slaughtered for fur and meat.

It definitely doesn’t taste like chicken.

Most game meats are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol– lower than beef and pork and even chicken and turkey. When the animals are raised on grass, their meat is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Lion meat, however, is not particularly healthy. Lions are strict carnivores at the top of the food chain; their meat contains concentrated levels of toxins and toxic proteins that have been absorbed by all of the animals along their dietary food chain.

You can buy lion meat in the form of shoulder roasts, tenderloin and other steaks, ground, and ribs. The meat is very pale and soft, but with almost no intramuscular fat it cooks up tough and dry. It purportedly tastes like pork with an added tang. It is definitely not kosher.

There are some better choices. You’ll swear you’re eating the best-tasting duck of your life when you’re served yak, or so they say. Antelope look like deer but are actually in the goat family, with a similar mild taste and fine grain. Beaver tail is supposed to be fantastic— woodsy and musk- flavored with meat the texture of short ribs. Try it brined, the experts say.

Which brings us to why.

Maybe you’re burned out on hamburgers and hot dogs from the long, grilling season. Or you’ve seen one too many bizarre food episodes with the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain. It’s also possible that this is the start of a pendulum swing back from the effeteness of too many dainty little sprinkle-covered cupcakes.

Mainstream supermarket chains have responded to the popularity of game meats. Fresh ostrich meat and ground bison are butcher counter staples, and wild boar sausage can frequently be found packaged with the hot dogs.

You’ll need to shop online if you want to truly go wild.

[a disclaimer: at Gigabiting, we are deeply troubled by the treatment of animals raised for fur, circuses, and similar purposes. But it seems ethically unambiguous to eat, rather than waste, the by-product of these other activities.]

Czimer’s is known for the broadest and most reliable selection of exotic meats. This is the place for hard-to-find animals like black bear, camel, kangaroo, and African lion.

Alongside the zebra and rat meat, Anshu Pathak’s Exotic Meat Market has a selection of game meat hot dogs and bacon.

6 Responses to How to Cook a Lion

  1. bigherm333 says:

    Thought about eating lion just to try it but after reading the comments on this blog there will be no lion served in this house

  2. Janice says:

    There is a school of thought that we should look at our wildlife species in the same way that we look at heirloom produce.
    We encourage farmers to grow heirloom varieties by creating demand for them at farmers markets, produce markets, and supermarkets,thereby preserving genetic diversity. Why not do the same for giant pandas?

  3. Steve says:

    That would be Andrew Zimmern for Bizarre Foods. Bourdain was No Reservations or currently Parts Unknown on CNN. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them sampling lion from a far off land though.

    Good write up. I’m doing some reading on eating lion after the whole “Cecile the Lion” hunting story. At first I was appalled; why should Americans think they can head over to Africa and poach lions? Then I was surprised to learn hunting lions isn’t illegal in Africa. I did some further reading after hearing an activist tell a hunter “Lion meat is toxic and can’t even be consumed by humans!” I was then even more surprised to learn lions are fairly widely consumed, especially in Africa, and thanks to this story, I found lion meat is even sold right here in US restaurants and online.

    At I read US fish and wildlife states lion population has gone from approximately 75,000 in 1980 down to about 33,000 currently primarily due to hunting. I’d have to double check those figures as the story at Organic Authority certainly had its bias, but, it got me thinking, “33,000 is still quite a few; we’re not talking California Condor numbers.” What about zebra? 750,000 in the World. I wondered “How many beef cattle are there in the US?” According to BeefUSA, 29.7 million, and maybe more interestingly, zero of the genus we consume live in the wild. I’m not exactly sure what to think about all of this but I do have to say I’d feel a little guilty with my lion burger.

    Does it mean if they tasted better we could save all sorts of endangered species?

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  6. Michael says:

    No need for lion for dinner, thanks!
    But a large wild boar chop–that I will grill myself one day.

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