Something unique on the menu for World Cup was all Il Vinaio owner Cameron Selogie had in mind when he started serving burgers made from free-range, USDA-approved lion meat.
Protests and a bomb threat probably weren't.
Selogies says that he did research before placing an order with a supplier that is approved by the USDA. He originally bought only five pounds of the exotic meat and intended to serve it mixed with ground beef, with corn and kettle chips on the side.
The lion burger was only offered to patrons who subscribe to Il Vinaio's email newsletter, which introduced the special last Thursday.
But things started to blow up on Sunday and Monday after one member of his email club, a local animal rights activist named Susan Cooper, took the story to ABC, Selogie says.
Protestors have since pounced on Selogie's decision to serve giant cat, sending hundreds of emails to the Mesa restaurateur. And although the restaurant hasn't received any direct threats by phone, there have been numerous menacing comments, including a bomb threat, on websites featuring the story -- which has since been reported internationally via Reuters and CNN.
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Selogie has been in touch with the Mesa Police Department, and was recently contacted by the FBI's Anti-Terrorism Program (perhaps because of the threats).
In addition, protesters have notified him that they will be picketing Il Vinaio tonight and tomorrow. Selogie's response will be to offer them ice water, while next door, Kirk's Sports Grill will be serving veggie burgers. He also plans to make donations to a local animal shelter.
"I've talked to a lot of these people on the phone, and I tell, them, 'I'm an animal lover,'" Selogie says. At this point, though, so many emails and phonecalls have come in that he's too busy to engage with each person directly.