The last couple of days have been pretty rough for Walter J. Palmer, D.D.S., the dentist who brutally slaughtered the beloved and protected Cecil the Lion. According to an NBC News report published on July 30, after paying $50,000, Palmer and professional hunter Theo Bronkorst along with landowner Honest Trymore Ndlovu, tied a dead animal to a vehicle and lured Cecil outside the protected Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Using a spotlight under the cover of night, Palmer shot Cecil with a crossbow, injuring the lion. For 40 hours, they tracked the injured 13-year-old lion before finally killing him with a gun, skinning him and cutting off his head. Cecil was part of an Oxford University study since 2008 and was fitted with a GPS collar. The hunters tried to destroy Cecil’s collar – but were unsuccessful.
Once the name of the American tourist was released, the outrage on social media was swift and deafening. Celebrities from around the globe have made no bones about their feelings.
Jimmy Kimmel got choked up when discussing Walter Palmer on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “I’m honestly curious to know why a human being would feel compelled to do that,” Kimmel said. “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?” Kimmel encouraged people to make a donation to the Wildlife Conservation Unite at Oxford. “At the very least, maybe we can show the world that not all Americans are like this jackhole.”
On July 28, Sharon Osbourne tweeted “When he dies, I hope someone mounts his ugly ass head to the wall. #WalterPalmer is a COWARD.” She later tweeted, “I hope that #WalterPalmer loses his home, his practice and his money. He has already lost his soul.”
On July 28, Ricky Gervais tweeted “It’s not for food. It’s not the shooting or tin cans would do. It must just be the thrill of the killing. Mental.”
Ricky Martin tweeted “#JusticeForCecilTheLion NOW.”
Since the news broke, the dentist’s Yelp page has been inundated with angry messages and a stuffed lion memorial has been set up outside Palmer’s River Bluff Dental office in Minnesota, which is now closed for the week. Palmer sent a letter to his patients apologizing for the inconvenience and said “we will do our best to resume normal operations as soon as possible” after a substantial number of “comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general.”
Palmer also issued a pathetic statement that reads, in part, “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.” Palmer went on to say he regrets that his “pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
To be clear, this is not the first time the “Smiling Dentist” has been in trouble with the law. He is, in fact, a convicted criminal. According to documents, Palmer was convicted of a felony for illegally killing a black bear outside a permitted area then dragging the bear back into the permitted area. He was fined and sentenced to probation. He was also convicted in 2003 for not having a fishing license. Palmer was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint. A former receptionist in his dental office was “subjected to ongoing and unwelcome sexual harassment by (Palmer) including, but not limited to, verbal comments and physical conduct involving her breasts, buttocks, and genitalia.” While he admitted to no wrongdoing, he settled with the former receptionist by paying her $127,500 and agreed to take a jurisprudence exam and ethics course. Apparently he must not have studied too hard during that ethics course, eh?
Despite professing to cooperate with officials, Palmer’s whereabouts are unknown. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating and currently “hunting” for Palmer. The White House also said it will review a public petition to extradite Palmer to Zimbabwe.
Besides the senseless slaughter of a majestic lion that was beloved by many, Palmer’s cowardly act has now placed his cubs and their mothers at risk. One can only wonder how the mighty hunter feels as the world watches him and condemns him for his actions.