Protests in Minnesota hometown of Walter Palmer, as hunter who paid £35k to kill treasured lion in Zimbabwe was nowhere to be seen at his US$1million home or surgery.
The legend of Cecil started about three and a half years ago, when the then-10-year-old lion was kicked out of his pride, beaten by younger, more powerful males. But Cecil wasn’t finished. He soon teamed up with another lone male named Jericho, and the lions regained control of the region’s two prides, one of which consists of three lionesses and seven cubs under seven months old.
“The loss of Cecil most likely spells the end of Jericho’s reign, and the possible loss of the pride’s cubs.” Says petitioner Ruth McD.
(CNN)Two Zimbabwean men were expected to appear in court Wednesday over the killing of Cecil the lion, one of Africa’s best known big cats. But most of the attention — and the anger — is focused on Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota whom Zimbabwean authorities say they are seeking for their investigation.
Palmer says he thought everything was above board with the lion hunt he paid to go on earlier this month.
But the lion that he and his local guides hunted down and killed wasn’t just any big cat, according to Zimbabwean officials.
It was Cecil, a beloved resident of Hwange National Park and a major tourist draw for Zimbabwe.
The hunters lured him out of the park, the conservation group said, and Palmer then shot the lion with a bow and arrow, a method he is known for. But the arrow wasn’t enough to kill Cecil, who survived for another 40 hours until the hunters tracked him down and shot him with a gun.
The American hunter unmasked yesterday as the killer of Cecil the lion has gone into hiding as the angry response spread across the internet and to Walter Palmer’s Minnesota hometown.
On the practice door of Dr Palmer’s dental surgery in Bloomington, Minnesota, a protester has fixed a flysheet with a picture of a beaming Dr Palmer and another hunter behind the body of a dead lion.
“Dr Walt Palmer – doesn’t he look proud of himself?, the flysheet read, before describing the demise of the “beloved Cecil”.
In comparison to much of the vitriol which has accompanied the unmasking of Dr Palmer, the small shrine of toy animals that greeted visitors outside the practice’s door to was a pretty gentle rebuke.
The little gaggle comprised of a moose, two toy lions, a bear, a leopard, a tiger and a chimp. But the message of condemnation was clear.
Press inquiries, meanwhile were directed to a Public Relations consultant, who later did issue a statement on the cosmetic dentist’s behalf.
Over the road from the surgery, a non-descriptive building on the outskirts of Minneapolis, a police officer kept an eye on proceedings, in case anger was demonstrated in a more forceful manner.
But there was little doubt that Dr Palmer is facing something of a backlash, even in his backyard.
Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources boasts of the state’s rich hunting heritage, but the death of Cecil seems to have been too much for people to stomach.
Through his public relations consultant, Dr Palmer expressed his regret at killing Cecil and insisted that he believed he was on a legal hunt.
“I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the US but said he “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,” he added.
This was not the first time Dr Palmer’s sporting interests have caused him some difficulty. In 2008 he pleaded guilty to lying to the authorities over where he had shot a black bear during the 2006 hunting season.
Last night he was not to be found, either at the surgery or his five-bedroom 4,007 square feet home, estimated as being worth just over $1 million (£640,000) in a leafy Minneapolis suburb.
Dr Palmer’s neighbors, who professed to not knowing him personally, voiced their displeasure at his role in the death of Cecil.
“I find it very disturbing. I think to shoot a beautiful creature like that and have a hunt arranged so you can mount a trophy on the wall is something which should be consigned to history,” said Jodie Root,62, a neighbor was upset by Mr Palmer’s trophy hunting.
“My husband is a fly fisherman, but he catches and releases. He still enjoys the hunt, but then he sends it back to nature.
“If you have enough money you can play any game you want.”
Laura Robbins, 49, who lives next door added: “I am shocked. I don’t like anything like that, I think is is awful. It breaks my heart.”
Lynda Johnson, 69, who had been a patient, said she was outraged.
“I have been a vegetarian for more than 30 years. God has given us enough to eat without killing animals.
“I don’t have words to describe how I feel. There are no words I can use and still remain a lady.”
A web page that appears to belong to Dr Palmer has been flooded with angry comments from people who accuse him of being immoral and an egotist.
The Google profile of a Walter Palmer, who appears to be a dentist from Minnesota, now includes comments condemning his actions.
Among the angry commentators was Blake Rutherford who wrote: “You have stolen this animal from the world Dr Palmer. The repercussions of your actions will haunt your business and reputation. I feel bad for your family and hope you can find a way to correct your actions. May I suggest free dental work for life at the local zoo.”
Another poster, Venu Dayana, wrote: “Walter, you should be ashamed of yourself for what you did. Your conscious knows what a horrible sin you committed. Your karma will get back to you.”
Others called him “pathetic”, “miserable” and “a scum bag”.
Mr Palmer has apologized for killing Cecil, saying he didn’t realize the lion was so well-known.
Sources: The Telegraph, David Millward, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Bonnie Malkin, World News, CNN