Zimbabwe demands extradition of Minnesota dentist for lion killing

Zimbabwe is calling for the extradition of Bloomington, Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer to face charges in Africa related to the killing of Cecil the lion. Friday morning, Zimbabwe’s environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said Dr. Palmer had a “well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the United States.”

Palmer admitted to shooting the lion during a hunt near Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, but said he relied on his licensed guides and thought the hunt was legal under local rules.

Dr. Palmer makes contact with U.S. officials

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed a representative of Dr. Palmer “voluntarily contacted” the agency on Thursday. The agency said they  “appreciate the cooperation” and the investigation is ongoing.

The U.S. Department of Justice had no comment Friday on the extradition process of this particular case, or whether a formal request has been submitted.

Dr. Palmer's statement to media

“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.”

READ THIS NEXT – Dr. Palmer’s letter to patients

Outrage at home and abroad

The case has sparked international outrage -- mainly in North America and Western Europe -- including protests outside of the River Bluff Dental office in Bloomington. VIEW PHOTOS

Hunting guide tells his story

The hunting guide hired by Dr. Palmer spoke out for the first time Thursday. Theo Bronkhorst spoke exclusively to The Telegraph, calling the hunt doomed from the start.

Bronkhorst said the hunt started late because of lost baggage and a last-minute change, leaving them hunting on the wrong land. The hunting party went home for the night after losing site of the lion, and found it wounded the next morning and that's when Palmer killed it.

The guide said they couldn't see the collar on Cecil because it was dark, and claims he was "devastated" when they found the beloved lion. Bronkhorst also said Palmer wanted to kill an elephant after he killed Cecil. Read more at www.telegraph.co.uk