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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.
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 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