When dentist Walter Palmer, 55, of Minneapolis is not drilling rotten teeth or halfway across the world wiping out endangered species, he’s living the South Florida dream in Marco Island, a posh, “magical, mystical and alluring” place as described by one Marco Island, Florida’s commerce website. An alluring place for everyone but Palmer, whose garage was spray painted with the words “Lion Killer.” But this mild-mannered, unassuming dentist, who looks like the weird kid who sat in the back of the room in eighth grade and made fart jokes, has become Public Enemy Number one. So why does a guy from the middle of a fly-over state travel halfway across the world solely to kill Zimbabwe’s star attraction?
A petition with nearly a quarter of a million signatures is heading to The United States Government demanding Palmer be extradited to Zimbabwe. His friends may be purring palliative platitudes to his face; after all, he does have a huge needle, (insert your own phallic joke here) and discretionary use of Novocain; but behind his back, everyone he ever met is a hater.
Turns out, this isn’t Palmer’s first rodeo. In 2008 he lied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after slaughtering a protected black bear. This brings his recent claims of ignorance as to Cecil’s status under suspicion. Turns out, this is his modus operandi.
Evidently, Palmer threw his hired guides under the bus. Theo Bronchorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu took the fall for illegal poaching; a crime that carries prison sentence of up to ten-years. They’re currently out on bail.
Cecil was a 13 year old male lion with an unusual mane with striking black streaks and the star of Zimbabwe’s photo safaris. He had a huge pride with a variety of lionesses and cubs, and was being tracked by Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University. African wildlife expert Dex Kotze says it is impossible that Palmer’s hunting team didn’t know it was Cecil.
“I mean a black mane lion like that you can see from afar and even on a hunt. You are definitely going to identify that this… is Cecil. ….all the conservationists ….in that area would have been very familiar with that lion Cecil,” Dex Kotze told CBS News’ Debora Patta. Palmer’s continued lack of sincere regret and statements that he did not know the lion was Cecil are testament to his character. But it’s doesn’t stop there. Palmer not only killed Cecil by luring him outside a protected area, he made sure that Cecil died a slow, agonizing death that took forty long, miserable hours before being skinned and beheaded.
But this act has not be without consequences. The Safari Club reacted by suspending Palmer’s membership; Palmer’s dental Facebook page was taken offline after being flooded with condemnation of Palmer; Yelp has hundreds of negative comments and a state database of Minnesota dentist licensure confirms Palmer’s registration as active, but “not practicing in state.” Several airlines are refusing to fly carcasses of trophy animals back to the U.S. So Animal Activists can take heart: Cecil may not have been killed in vain. The whole world is suddenly paying attention to conservation efforts. It’s Michael Vick all over again. Animal Rights activists knew about dog fighting long before the news of Vick hit the media, but nobody seemed to care. Animal Rights activists also know more about poaching and illegal trade of animal parts than the average Joe, and now, everyone else seems to be paying attention too. As they say in the Animal Rights movement: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”