Minnesota dentist Dr. Walter Palmer was outted on Tuesday as the big-game hunter who took down Cecil the Lion, a beloved and protected cat in one of Zimbabwe’s national parks.
Animal rights and conservation groups around the world are outraged. After news broke, Palmer’s dental office in Bloomington, Minn. and the River Bluff Dental website became ground zero for the anger and disgust.
“I think they should reconsider their dentist,” one woman said. “There are plenty of other dentists in the community who are animal advocates and good people.”
Palmer was in Zimbabwe earlier this summer when he apparently paid more than $50,000 for a license to hunt lion with professional guides. According to reports, the hunting party baited Cecil with his majestic mane from his protected confines at night. He shot the 13-year-old famed lion with a bow and arrow on July 1.
“I think a hunter in that situation is going to be very trusting of their professional hunter,” Bill Urseth, owner of the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club, said. “They’re going to the place they are told.”
Urseth has hunted big game in Africa with licensed guides and believes they would have very much set the rules during Palmer’s outing.
“Usually very professional, and they are going to know the ground, the species, and the best way to attract and get you game,” Urseth said.
Authorities in Zimbabwe have charged Palmer’s guide and a nearby land owner with poaching in connection with Cecil’s death. They also announced they are actively looking for Palmer, threatening to arrest him for his actions.
The dental practice abruptly closed for the week, with shades drawn tight amid the firestorm. And no one appeared to be home at his house in Eden Prairie. Though, he did release a written statement on Tuesday through a hired public relations representative.
“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.”