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US Dentist Becomes the Hunted One After Killing Cecil the Lion

Police in Zimbabwe are trying to locate Dr. Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, who killed one of Africa's most famous lions earlier this month.

Palmer paid $55,000 for a big-game permit to go to Africa and kill a lion. Local professionals guided Palmer as they apparently tied a dead animal onto the back of their vehicle to lure a lion out of Hwange National Park and hunt him down.

They used a spotlight to find him in the dark, and Palmer shot him with a bow and arrow. The lion was wounded, and they continued to track him for 40 hours until they killed him, skinned him and beheaded him.

How do we know so much about this lion? His name was Cecil and he just happened to be part of a research study conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WCRU). He was wearing a GPS collar so that researchers could track and study the lion's movements. The collar was also how they were able to locate what was left of Cecil's body.

Theo Bronkhorst and Honest Ndlovu, Palmer's hunting companions, were both arrested but have since been released on bail, and they are scheduled to appear in court on poaching charges. They could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Palmer has gone into hiding, pleading ignorance about the protection status of Cecil, but he released a statement to the press that reads as follows:

"In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."

This isn't the first time Palmer has been under fire for his hunting. He is a member of the Safari Club International and has 43 registered kills. In 2008, Palmer pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the location where he killed a black bear. He was placed on a one-year probation and fined $2939.

This story has gained international attention, and people have been expressing their outrage online, including Palmer's Yelp page, leaving negative comments for the hated man. His dentist office is closed, and the business' Facebook page and website are both offline after being flooded with comments from people disgusted by and furious with Palmer.

Many celebrities, including Ricky Gervais and Anna Paquin, are joining the conversation. Jimmy Kimmel choked up on air as he shared his thoughts about the killing of Cecil, calling it a "disgusting tragedy," and made a plea for donations to the WCRU, the organization that was tracking Cecil.

The concern now turns to Cecil's cubs. There is fear that they could be killed if their pride is taken over by another male lion, which is most likely to happen.

"The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho, will most likely kill all of Cecil's cubs," Johnny Rodrigues, a member of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told Daily Mail.

If you are also outraged and disgusted by Palmer's actions, sign the Justice for Cecil petition or consider donating.

Image via Daily Mail (lion pictured is not Cecil)

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