Minnesota dentist who killed Zimbabwe's Cecil the lion draws threats, protests

Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:12pm EDT
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By David Bailey

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (Reuters) - A Minnesota dentist's killing of Zimbabwe's Cecil the lion just outside a national wildlife preserve has unleashed death threats and a global firestorm of hate messages on social media.

About 200 people protested on Wednesday outside the suburban Minneapolis office of Walter Palmer, 55, calling for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face charges.

Palmer, an avid big game hunter, said in a statement on Tuesday he regrets killing Zimbabwe's most famous lion on July 1. He said he had hired professional local guides who secured hunting permits and believed the hunt was legal.

Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, was lured out of Hwange National Park using a bait and was wounded with a bow and arrow, and not shot dead until 40 hours later.

Cecil was fitted with a GPS collar for a research project by scientists from Oxford University and was one of the oldest and most famous lions in Zimbabwe.

Palmer temporarily closed his office in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Tuesday as criticism grew of his killing of Cecil and negative business reviews flooded Google and Yelp.

The lion's death has spawned half a dozen petitions on Change.org and calls by animal rights groups for U.S. laws to protect big game animals and prevent hunters from bringing trophies back to the United States.

Bloomington Police are investigating threats against Palmer, whose location is not known. Because many of the threats were made online, police are having difficulty determining their origins and credibility.   Continued...

Piper Hoppe, 10, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday charged a professional local hunter Theo Bronkhorst with failing to prevent an American from unlawfully killing 'Cecil', the southern African country's best-known lion. The American, Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who paid $50,000 to kill the lion, has left Zimbabwe. He says he did kill the animal but believed the hunt was legal and that the necessary permits had been issued. REUTERS/Eric Miller