If you’ve looked at any social media feed in the last 24 hours, you probably saw the story of Cecil the Lion and the trophy hunter who killed him.
American dentist Dr. Walter Palmer was identified as Cecil’s killer, quickly making him Internet’s most hated person.
Palmer reportedly paid $55,000 for the opportunity to hunt a lion in Zimbabwe, but the country is saying that the hunt was illegal.
— #VisitZimbabwe (@tourismzimbabwe) July 28, 2015
A statement from Zimbabwe National Parks reads, “Ongoing investigations to date, suggest that the killing of the lion was illegal since the land owner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015.”
Palmer’s guide, Theo Bronkhorst, and Honest Ndlovu, the landowner, have been arrested.
Yelp users took to the page for Palmer’s Bloomington, Minnesota practice, River Bluff Dental, to voice their displeasure. The practice now has close to 4,700 reviews and a 1.5-star rating. Users noticed that Yelp was taking down some of their posts, too.
In the reviews, Palmer is labeled “a monster,” “one of the worst human beings on the planet,” and “murderer,” among many other scathing epithets. Other users called for the dentist to be hunted and killed. A petition demanding justice for Cecil was launched on July 23, and currently has more than 445,000 signatures.
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Palmer admitted to killing Cecil, and issued the following statement to the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted. 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. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but 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.
The “responsibly and legally” aspect of his statement isn’t 100 percent true. According to The Washington Post, he has a history:
[Palmer] pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents.
Reporters on the scene tweeted that Palmer’s dental practice appears to be closed:
Dental practice belonging to controversial big game hunter Walter Palmer completely locked down. All shades drawn. pic.twitter.com/opvzJp8ea9
— Paul Blume (@PaulBlume_FOX9) July 28, 2015
The practice also appears to have shut down its Facebook page after it was overrun with comments about the incident.
What do you think of Palmer’s statement, and his practice’s reaction to the current social media storm?