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For Immediate Release: 03/12/13

Born Free USA Applauds Illinois Rep. Luis Arroyo for Introducing Lion Meat Bill

Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, applauds state Rep. Luis Arroyo for introducing House Bill 2991, a measure championed by Born Free USA that would ban the sale of lion meat and the slaughter of the animals in Illinois.

According to Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA: “We applaud Representative Arroyo for introducing this bill. The lion meat industry is fraught with regulatory pitfalls and shortcomings that place people and lions at risk. People who are interested in lions should focus on ways to protect them in the wild where they belong, not ‘farm’ them for their cubs and meat for cheap thrills and restaurant gimmicks.”

In 2011, Born Free USA released the results of a year-long investigation that revealed shocking information about the raising, slaughter, sale and consumption of lion meat, raising serious animal welfare, conservation and human health concerns. The organization began looking into the lion meat trade in June 2010, after receiving reports of lion meat availability across the country. What was uncovered is a shady business cycle that involves lion cubs bred for the captive display industry, caged lions shot at a slaughterhouse, and frightening lack of regulatory oversight and accountability.

The supply chain has led to Illinois. In at least one case, it was traced to Czimer's Game and Seafood in Homer Glen, IL, which obtained the lion carcasses from Eickman's Processing in Seward, IL. Eickman’s is one of 16 slaughter facilities in the state that processes exotic meat, and but the only one that handles lions.

Roberts explains: “Our year-long examination proved that government agencies are not enforcing regulations to protect animals and the public. Neither the USDA nor the FDA knows where lions slaughtered for meat originate and therefore are unable to guarantee how safe the meat is for human consumption and how the animals are being treated prior to or during slaughter. The ‘regulation’ of the lion meat industry is simply a sham, and both lions and the American public deserve better from our government officials.”

As a result of Born Free USA’s findings, the organization called on state legislatures across the country to prohibit the commercial exploitation of lions for their meat. Because in most if not all cases, lion meat recently sold was traced back to originating in Illinois, passing legislation in the state is key.

The African lion is not listed on the U.S. Endangered Species list, although Born Free USA along with other conservation organizations has petitioned for its listing. The lion population in Africa has been reduced by half since 1980. Born Free USA is concerned that increased popularity of lion meat in the United States could influence global trends and result in increased threats to the survival of the species in the wild.

For the complete investigation report, visit www.bornfreeusa.org/lionmeat.

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers, now chief executive officer of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, (203) 270-8929.

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