US dentist's regret for killing lion does little to stop online attacks
A US dentist is responsible for shooting and killing one of Zimbabwe's oldest and most beloved lions, known as Cecil.
Walter Palmer, 55, a hunting enthusiast, reportedly paid $50,000 to several professional guides who helped lure the 13-year-old lion.
The lion was lured out of Hwange National Park using a bait before he was shot by Palmer, said chairman of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) Johnny Rodrigues.
Palmer is believed to have shot Cecil with a crossbow.
The dentist and his guide then tracked the wounded lion and shot him dead with a gun 40 hours later, thought to have been around July 1.
But Cecil, a very popular lion was wearing a GPS collar to help tack its movements as part of a study.
The hunters had attempted to destroy the collar but failed.
The lion's carcass was only discovered days after it had been killed.
Rodrigues told the BBC that Cecil – with his distinctive balck mane – was "one of the most beautiful animals to look at" and "never bothered anybody".
He added that it is expected that Cecil's six cubs will be killed by the pride's new male lion to make sure that the females will mate with him.
Palmer, from Minnesota said that while he deeply regretted taking the lion, "everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted".
He said that his guides had secured the relevant permits for his bow hunting trip. He only discovered the identity of the lion after he had killed it.
Zimbabwe issues annual permits allowing foreign hunters to kill wildlife like the elephant, buffalo and lion. This is done as a means to raise money for conservation.
Palmer said: "I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."
His regret will do little to calm the near global outrage that has arisen from the killing.
The reveal of his identity resulted in people attacking Palmer online.
While his social media accounts have since been shut down, his clinic's page on Yelp, a review site, has been inundated with bogus reviews and personal attacks.
The clinic now has over 2,000 entries.
One user, Paul G. said: "Keep in mind what he uses your hard earned money for... to kill beautiful endangered species for fun and smiles about it."
Another user Lisa J said:
"Personally, I choose to leave my dentistry work to non-murderers. There's just less of a liability."
If convicted, Palmer and his guide would be required to pay $20,000 in compensation. But the court may impose an additional jail term.
Two Zimbabwaen men – a hunter and a farm owner – have been arrested for poaching offences.
Celebrities have been quick to condemn Palmer.
Sharon Osbourne let three scathing tweets fly. One calling Palmer "Satan", another hoping that his head is mounted and then there was this
Olivia Wilde questioned Palmers regret of not knowing the identity of the lion
And Ricky Gervais put up a theory of his own:
Even Jimmy Kimmel delivered an emotional monologue on his talk show.
Source: Reuters, BBC, Yelp, Twitter