Oh no! There’s been a shocking new revelation in the ongoing investigation of the tragic murder of Cecil, Africa’s most-famous lion. Officials have identified the hunter responsible for the beloved animal’s death as an American dentist who paid $55,000 to kill him — for sport!
After weeks of searching for the hunter responsible for the death of Cecil, one of Africa’s most famous and beloved lions, Zimbabwe officials identified the culprit on July 28 as Dr. Walter James Palmer —a 55-year-old Minnesota dentist, who allegedly paid $55,000 to savagely hunt the 13-year-old lion with a bow and arrow during a recreational hunting trip on July 1. Now, as outraged conservation groups continue to blast the avid hunter for viciously killing one of the world’s ‘most beautiful creatures,’ Zimbabwe’s Conservation Task Force is looking to press charges.
After weeks of searching, Zimbabwe officials identified the American dentist as the man responsible for the murder of the famous African lion on July 28. Palmer was tracked down after two independent sources confirmed the hunter’s identity to The Telegraph, which also located a copy of Palmer’s relevant hunting permit. After having been identified by the task force, Palmer released a statement on July 28 saying that to his 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,” he said. “I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.” Palmer added that he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. but promised to cooperate if they had questions.
The incident however, has caused waves of outrage around the world as Cecil was no ordinary lion — he had been tagged by the Wildlife Unit of Oxford University in the U.K. and was the subject of over a decade of research. Conservation groups in Zimbabwe were also particularly angry over the news due partly to the fact the lion was known to visitors and seemingly enjoyed human contact, and partly because of the savage way in which he was killed. Palmer, along with a Zimbabwean hunter who served as his guide, allegedly lured Cecil from the Hwange National Park — a protected area that bans hunting — with an animal carcass and shot him with a bow and arrow, which is said to be a favorite weapon of Palmer’s. The lion was then followed for 40 hours before he was ultimately killed with a rifle, and later skinned and decapitated — his head was likely kept as a trophy. “He never bothered anybody,” said Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. “He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at.” This is beyond tragic!
This also isn’t the first time Palmer has come under fire for his hunting techniques. In 2008, he was placed on probation for one year and fined $2,939 after lying to federal authorities twice about where he shot a black bear in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the two arrested Zimbabwean men who were with Palmer at the time— a professional hunter and a farm owner — are also facing poaching charges, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association said in a joint statement. Killing the lion was illegal because the farm owner did not have a hunting permit, and if convicted, the men could face up to 15 years in prison. Sadly, nothing will bring back the beloved animal.
What do you think HollywoodLifers — should Palmer be charged for the death of Cecil? Sound off below!
— Alyssa Montemurro