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Minnesota Trophy Hunter Accused Of Killing Beloved African Lion

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Jul 28, 2015 3:30PM

Walt Palmer, left, with another one of his many trophies (via Telegraph)

A Minnesota dentist and world-famous hunter stands accused of killing Cecil, a beloved 13-year-old lion who drew crowds to one of Zimbabwe's national parks. He and the professional hunter who carried out the hunt—which they admit was carried out poorly—will face poaching charges.

Walter Palmer, a bow-and-arrow big game hunter whose shooting prowess earned him a mention in the New York Times in 2009, is accused of killing Cecil just outside of Hwange National Park earlier this month. Conservation groups have spoken out against the shooting, which they say not only took out a widely-admired lion, who seemed to enjoy attention of crowds who visited the park—but was also illegal.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says that Palmer paid Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter with Bushman Safaris, $50,000 for the privilege of taking a shot at Cecil, according to The Guardian. Neither Bronkhorst nor Palmer were aware of Cecil's celebrity. Palmer released a statement through a spokesman saying that he was "obviously quite upset over everything."

"As far as I understand, Walter believes that he might have shot that lion that has been referred to as Cecil," the spokesman told The Guardian. "What he'll tell you is that he had the proper legal permits and he had hired several professional guides, so he's not denying that he may be the person who shot this lion. He is a big-game hunter; he hunts the world over."

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said the hunters spotted Cecil one night in the national park, where it would be illegal to shoot any animals. To lure him outside the park's boundaries, they tied a dead animal to their vehicle. Palmer is accused of shooting Cecil with a bow and arrow outside the park, which wounded but did not kill him. Later they found the ailing lion and killed him before beheading and skinning him. Then, the hunters are accused of removing the collar used to track Cecil—which is also illegal. Bronkhorst reported his mistake to the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority the next day.

Zimbabwe National Parks issued a statement confirming the charges against Bronkhorst, according to The Telegraph: "All persons implicated in this case are due to appear in court facing poaching charges. Both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt."

Here is a video of poor Cecil in his glory days:

Cecil The Lion Memorialized Outside Office Of Dentist Who Killed Him