Among Earth Day's most curious rites yesterday was one conducted by restaurateur Dominique D'Ermo, who regularly serves up all manner of exotic wildlife -- lion, hippo, rattlesnake -- diners at the downtown restaurant that bears his name.

Dominique banned all meat from his gourmet menu at 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the day. He also donated $200 worth of expensive fruits and cheese for a gathering of 150 environmentalists, who chomped and nibbled his offering inside historic St. John's Church near Lafayette Park yesterday afternoon.

"A fabulous spread," said Vicky Dombka, 25, the wildlife official who asked Dominique to provide the food as a way to "make amends" for his having served an endangered species of rattlesnake to customers at his restaurant last night.

"I didn't do it because I felt guilty -- she was just a real nice lady who felt sorry for snakes," said D'Ermo in his heavy French accent. "I appreciate her concerns, so I was happy to help.

"Even though I'm a hunter and a fisherman, I don't have anything against these people. Let them live their lives, and I will live mine."

After Earth Day, Dominique's restaurant will return to normal -- serving everything exotic except endangered species. "As long as it is legal," he said, "I will serve it.