American dentist Walter James Palmer killed a beloved lion named Cecil, who lived in Zimbabwe’s Hwange’s National Park, after luring him out of the park earlier this month. The news of Palmer’s hunting mission has sparked global outrage.

Cecil The Lion Killed By Walter James Palmer

Palmer, who runs a dental practice in Minnesota, took off for Zimbabwe in early July. Due to a Zimbabwean law, it would have been illegal for Palmer to kill Cecil inside the “free roam” zone of Hwange National Park. In order to sidestep this law, Palmer lured Cecil with an animal carcass set up on a nearby farm owned by Honest Trymore Ndlovu.

Once Palmer had Cecil in his sights outside of the park, he shot him with a crossbow. Cecil was only injured by the shot, leading Palmer to stalk the animal for 40 hours before he managed to shoot and kill him using a rifle. After killing Cecil, Palmer, who reportedly had help from hunter Theo Bronkhorst, skinned Cecil’s corpse and cut off the lion’s head.

Though Palmer has insisted that his hunting expedition, which cost him $50,000, was legal, Zimbabwean officials disagree. They’ve already arrested his cohorts Ndlovu and Bronhorst and want Palmer as well.

“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,” Palmer said in a statement to the Minnesota Star-Tribune.“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.”

Palmer’s big game kill has elicited so much attention – largely negative – because of Cecil’s relative celebrity status in Zimbabwe and abroad. Additionally, Cecil was a participant in an Oxford University study on lion conservation in the region.

“It’s not many months ago that I watched Cecil with my hand on my heart as he strayed toward a hunting concession,” Professor David Macdonald, founding director of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, told CNN. “On that occasion he turned back into the protection of the park, but this time he made a fatal mistake and I feel deeply sad, personally.”

Since the news of Cecil’s death broke, many celebrities have used their platforms to decry the senseless killing of the wild animal. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel addressed the matter during the opening monologue of his late night show and got emotional.

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