Eating Animals to Save Them

Via Stossel

A restaurant in Mesa, Arizona is selling lion meat burgers. Enter the animal rights activists:

Dr. Grey Stafford with the World Wildlife Zoo says that serving a threatened species sends the wrong message. "Of all the plentiful things to eat in this country, for someone to request that or to offer that... I was rather stunned," says Stafford.

... Animal rights advocates are expected to protest outside[the restaurant].

But why?  Lions are listed as "threatened." The best way to save threatened and endangered species is to"¦eat them.

First, I just have to go there.  If they would serve lion meat burritos, I could probably get TJIC to come down and visit.

Second, here are the awesome Mitchell and Webb making the same point, towards the end of this sketch-- animals we think are tasty never seem to go extinct.


  1. Doug:

    So Tasting Good is actually an evolutionary survival strategy. Interesting.

  2. anon:

    Doug, only if you taste good to a critter that will farm you.

    It's sorta related to the tragedy of the commons -- by having property rights in lions, and having a market in lion meat, people will breed lions to meet the meat demand.

    If lions get scarce, the price will go up and people will expend even more resources to breed/raise more lions.

  3. Geoff:

    So what about the Galapagos Giant Turtles? The Dodo?, Lots of animals that were tasty have been hunted to extinction. Its just they are consigned to the dustbin of history eaten and forgotten!

  4. Evil Red Scandi:

    This is already being done successfully: (of course, environmental and animal rights groups are still, if you'll pardon the pun, having a cow).

  5. Joseph Hertzlinger:

    There is a minor problem that not every species adjusts well to captivity. For example, in the era just before sheep and goats were domesticated in the middle east, archeological evidence shows that gazelles were the biggest meat source. There must have been attempts to domesticate gazelles but it turned out to be easier to raise sheep.

    I don't think that applies to lions. They adjust fairly well to zoos and circuses.

  6. LoneSnark:

    That just makes them harder to farm. If the animals kill themselves on fences, don't put up fences. Use walls, moats, or whatever else Disney's Animal Kingdom invented. Sure, barbed wire is cheap, so not being able to use it will dramatically drive up the price of the meat, but the nice thing about markets is the price will rise to cover real costs of production.

    Geoff, as Annon said, Humans have not always used private property, so many animals have and continue to fall victim to the tragedy of the commons. Animals are still unowned in Zimbabwe, so they are dying off, while in Kenya the exact same animals are thriving, because people will pay money to shoot them.

  7. Some other guy:

    Ultimately, feed conversion rates are going to keep most predator meat out of the food stream. If it takes 10 pounds of beef to make one pound of lion, it's going to be a lot less expensive just to eat the cow in the first place.

    It's not a coincidence that virtually all domesticated animals eat things like grass, brush, and rough grains that humans can't digest directly.

    What seems to have doomed the dodo was that as a species it responded to limitations in food supply by slowing its reproductive rate rather than by expanding its range.

  8. Rick C:

    " Sure, barbed wire is cheap, so not being able to use it will dramatically drive up the price of the meat."

    Sure, but walls are a more or less fixed cost and should be amortizable over a long period of time.

  9. jayh:

    I red flag any instance of the phrase 'sending the wrong message'. It's a virtual guarantee that the spokesman has lost the logical argument and is replacing it with a kind of 'psychic harm' projection (with the harm being determined by his own gut feelings rather than any rational basis.)

    Cattle are probably about the most successful large animal on the planet, millions of them on every continent except Antartica. Indeed in more than a humorous, ironic sense, being tasty indeed is a survival advantage.

    Hunted animals are more precarious than farmed ones but in many cases, game animals have indeed thrived (hunters are often the strongest supporters of conservation)

    Of course there are always counter examples (the tortoise is easy to catch and very slow growing). Farming has made the otherwise vulnerable alligator both an economic success and a survival success.

  10. Pat Moffitt:

    And many have also forgotten it was petroleum and coal that saved the whales- not Greenpeace. There was no moral outcry against killing whales 100+ years ago- just simple economics of kerosene replacing whale oil to light our homes.

  11. stuhlmann:

    And to think that Chinese restaurants get into trouble for serving cat. I guess size matters.

  12. Andrew Dawson:

    Though where will people draw the line, every thing has a tipping point.

  13. Michelle:

    "Though where will people draw the line, every thing has a tipping point."

    Why do they have to draw a line? I don't see how eating a lion or cat is worse than a cow or pig. And I believe tuna are carnivorous, so eating carnivores isn't anything new. :)

  14. Mesa Econoguy:

    This is my favorite show.