A 55-year-old dentist from Eden Prairie, Minnesota named Walter Palmer paid $55,000 to go on a big game hunting trip to Africa earlier this month. He’s gone on these types of trips before and whether or not you ethically agree with them, they ARE legal.
Except what Walter ended up doing WASN’T. He shot and killed a lion, but it wasn’t just any lion. It was a FAMOUS lion named Cecil who was the top attraction at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Cecil was the leader of the entire pride of lions.
The two guides who took Walter on the tour had permits for him to kill a lion . . . but not one that had a GPS tracking collar. Those lions are part of a research program and off limits.
They lured Cecil out of the park with bait and Walter shot him with a crossbow, then finished him off with a rifle. After he killed Cecil, the guides cut off his head and illegally removed his collar.
When the story got out yesterday, people were OUTRAGED . . . like, way beyond the usual level of Internet outrage. He was the number one trend on Facebook. People started leaving terrible reviews of his dental practice.
Besides all the anger online, things have actually moved offline . . . and some people in Minnesota have been putting stuffed animals outside of his office in protest.
Walter and his family have gone INTO HIDING because of the backlash. He issued a statement yesterday saying he had no idea Cecil was famous and, quote, “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
That being said, it’s not the first time he’s gotten into trouble for an illegal hunt. He was caught shooting a black bear outside of a hunting zone in Wisconsin in 2006 and lied to a federal agent about it.
He pleaded guilty to making material false statements in 2008 and could’ve been facing up to five years in prison but, as far as we know, he didn’t serve any time.
The fallout from this hunt might not go so well. His two tour guides are going to be in court this week facing poaching charges and the police in Zimbabwe say they want to talk to Walter.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says all three could be looking at up to 15 years in prison.
Cecil’s death could lead to millions of dollars in losses for Zimbabwe in tourism since he was such an attraction. Also, now that he’s gone, experts say the new leader of the pride will most likely kill all six of his cubs.