People on social media sites continue to express outrage over an American dentist’s killing of the beloved African lion named Cecil as they take to Facebook, Twitter and petition sites demanding justice. Since the news hit the internet on July 28, 2015, Walter Palmer from Minnesota has essentially become one of the most hated people in the country.
Cecil was a 13 year old African lion from the Hwange National Park and the most beloved animal in Zimbabwe. His beautiful black mane and friendly temperament toward visitors also made him a major tourist attraction to the region. Sadly, his life came to a tragic and painfully slow death. On July 1, 2015, Palmer paid two men, Theo Bronchorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, about $50,000 US dollars to help him hunt down and murder the lion. They lured Cecil away from his protected sanctuary by tying a dead animal to their vehicle. Once Cecil was out of the park, Palmer shot him with a bow and arrow but did not kill him instantly. Instead, the three men had to track Cecil for over 40 hours before finally delivering a fatal gunshot to the suffering animal. The men then proceeded to behead and skin Cecil’s remains and destroy a GPS collar that was a part of an Oxford University research project. However, it was their inability to completely destroy the GPS devise that led officials to the horrific discovery a few days later.
Earlier today, both Bronchorst and Ndlovu were formally charged with poaching and permit offenses. They were released on $1000 bail each and ordered to appear back in court on August 5, 2015. Palmer, who is no longer in Zimbabwe and may still face charges, also issued a letter addressed to his patients expressing his regret for shooting the beloved lion. In the letter, he states that he believed “everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted”. His dentistry practice located in Bloomington Minnesota has been closed since Tuesday and his current whereabouts are unknown.
Despite Palmer’s remorse, the internet continues to demand justice for Cecil. Online petitions are available on many popular sites and the public outrage doesn’t appear to be diminishing. For example, the petitions on Care2, Change, and We the People have a combined signature count of over 900,000. Celebrities have also expressed their sadness and anger by taking to Twitter:
“When he dies, I hope someone mounts his ugly ass head to the wall. #WalterPalmer is a COWARD”– Sharon Osboune
“RIP #CecilTheLion I’m struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this” – Ricky Gervais
“this man is disgusting . #WalterJamesPalmer #CecilTheLion” – Shannen Doherty
Jimmy Kimmel chose to express his disgust in Palmer by giving an emotional monologue during Jimmy Kimmel Live:
“The big question is: Why are you shooting a lion in the first place? I mean, I’m honestly curious to know why a human being would feel compelled to do that. How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things that are stronger than you? “
At this rate, it doesn’t seem likely that the voices of outrage will be ending anytime soon.
The African lion (panther leo) is considered a vulnerable species and less than 21,000 remain in the wild largely due to poaching and hunting. CITES defines the term vulnerable as a species considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Before his death, Cecil led two prides that included six lionesses, 12 cubs and one adult male lion named Jericho. Now that Cecil is gone, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force fears that Jericho will kill Cecil’s cubs as he attempts to claim the prides as his and mate with the females. And according to Jeff Flocken, the North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, there is concern that some of the females may die in an attempt to protect their young. So it seems that not only did Palmer kill Cecil but he may have helped to destroy the animal’s pride.