People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called for the extradition – and subsequent execution – of the American dentist implicated in the killing of Cecil the lion in a statement released Tuesday.
Condemning the shooting, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said:
“Hunting is a coward’s pastime. If, as has been reported, this dentist and his guides lured Cecil out of the park with food so as to shoot him on private property, because shooting him in the park would have been illegal, he needs to be extradited, charged, and, preferably, hanged. To get a thrill at the cost of a life, this man gunned down a beloved lion, Cecil with a high-powered weapon. All wild animals are beloved by their own mates and infants, but to hunters like this overblown, over-privileged little man, who lack empathy, understanding, and respect for living creatures, they are merely targets to kill, decapitate, and hang up on a wall as a trophy. The photograph of this dentist, smiling over the corpse of another animal, who, like Cecil, wanted only to be left in peace, will disgust every caring soul in the world.”
Walter J. Palmer, a U.S. citizen from the Minnesota suburb of Eden Prairie, allegedly paid $50,000 to kill Cecil, a 13-year-old male lion, reportedly the most famous creature in Hwange National Park, during a big game hunting trip to Zimbabwe. According to reports, Palmer has denied any illegality and has said that he “relied on the expertise of my local and professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
As reported by the Daily Telegraph, Palmer said: “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 favourite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt.”
Cecil was being monitored as part of an Oxford University study into lion conservation, according to the BBC.
Despite his plea of ignorance however, and displaying an iota of regret, Palmer added: “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.”
After Palmer was outed as the hunter responsible for killing Cecil, mass hysteria broke out across social media platforms, forcing the dentist to go into hiding.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the father-of-two’s dental practice was closed when reporters went to knock on the door and a note left on his family home referred callers to a public relations company in Minneapolis.
Moreover, the Yelp.com page for Palmer’s business has been inundated with aggressive ‘reviews’, with posters publishing an array of aggressive insults featuring a heavy dose of colourful language.
“What an ASS you are Palmer! You are obviously a piece of crap of a human being [sic],” wrote a user named Andrew V.
Even Sharon Osbourne, the wife of Black Sabbath singer-songwriter Ozzy Osbourne, launched a diatribe of her own:
#WalterPalmer is Satan. I don't know how anyone could go to this man for dental services after this. He is a killer. Beware!— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) July 28, 2015
I hope that #WalterPalmer loses his home, his practice & his money. He has already lost his soul...— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) July 28, 2015
...When he dies, I hope someone mounts his ugly ass head to the wall. #WalterPalmer is a COWARD.— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) July 28, 2015
Zimbabwean authorities have arrested two men – Theo Bronchorst, a professional hunter, and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, a local landowner – on poaching charges in connection with the killing. According to CNN, the two men have since been released on bail of $1000 each. But, if convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison.
Implying that the killing of Cecil was illegal, a statement from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe said: “Ongoing investigations to date suggest that […] the landowner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015.
CNN has reported that officials from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force allege that the hunters lured Cecil out of the relative safety of the Hwange National Park with a dead animal on top of a vehicle before shooting him with a crossbow. The lion then survived for another 40 hours until the hunters tracked him down and shot him with a gun.
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