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MESA, AZ – In the spirit of the World Cup, one restaurant is serving up an unusual meal!

The World Cup is in full swing in South Africa and the continent is full of pride. If there is one thing that the continent of Africa is known for it’s for their jungles and being home to the king of the jungle, the lion. In the spirit of the World Cup and Africa, one Arizona restaurant wanted to give both to their patrons in a very unique, yet controversial way.

Il Vinaio restaurant, in Mesa, Arizona, has decided to serve up some controversial lion meat burgers. In hopes of attracting soccer fans for the 2010 World Cup, the restaurant has caught the eye and anger of animal rights advocates.

The restaurant began serving the lion meat burgers on Wednesday despite criticisms from activists and some patrons. Restaurant owner Cameron Selogie has told the Arizona Republic that the meat comes from a free-range farm in Illinois that is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Despite the owner’s claims, CNN did some investigative work and uncovered some very interesting details. According to CNN, the USDA doesn’t inspect or regulate lion meat. The shipment actually came from a company called Czimer’s Game & Sea Food, a butcher shop outside of Chicago, whose owner has served a six-month prison sentence for selling meat from federally protected tigers and lopards. At least Selogie was telling the truth about the state.

CNN asked the butcher’s shop owner, Robert Czimer, where he got his product but was unwilling to name the source.

“This man buys and sells animals for the skin, and when I need something and he has the ability to get it, I will bargain for the meat. It’s a byproduct,” Czimer said.

Where does this man get his lions from?

“I wouldn’t have any idea,” he added. “He has his sources, and I don’t infringe on his business, just as he does not infringe on mine.”

The owner of Il Vinaio said that he has received countless strong worded e-mails from protestors and even a bomb threat for good measure.

What a tragic move by the restaurant. It seems as though the creative juices were flowing when he wanted to bring the World Cup to his restaurant, but the common sense juices were no where to be found. There are certainly countless other ways to capture the spirit of the World Cup and serving lion meat seems to be on the bottom of anyone’s list.