Legislation & Lobbying

If Horses Win, Lions Lose: All-Beef Diet?

A possible federal ban on slaughtering horses for their meat isn’t supported by at least one group of animal-lovers: lion-keepers and other fans of big cats. It turns out that zoos, which often feed horse meat to their carnivorous animals, are the biggest consumer of domestic horse meat.

Nonetheless, some zoo officials support the ban, which is intended to protect an animal viewed as an American icon and a modern-day pet from inhumane treatment, reports the Seattle Times. A photo shows a young lion chomping on a birthday cake made of 10 pounds of horse meat, whipped cream and a carrot.

Others note that if lions, for instance, don’t eat horse meat, they’ll likely chow down on beef or chicken. Also, a ban, they point out, may not prevent American horses from being shipped elsewhere and slaughtered under perhaps worse conditions.

“We’re aware that the issue is out there, but it’s not clear that there’s any consensus among our members,” says Steve Feldman, a spokesman for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. “We’re leaving it up to the veterinarians and animal-care staff.”

A ban on U.S. production of horse meat passed the House of Representatives last year, and is expected to be considered again. Meanwhile, the one remaining horse slaughterhouse in the country, in Illinois, has prevailed at least for now, in the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in its constitutional challenge of a state law that would have made it a crime to slaughter horses for human consumption, according to the Associated Press.

In a similar Texas case, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by horse slaughterhouse owners to a state law banning their business, the Humane Society of the United States notes in a Web post.

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