Internet Demands Justice for Cecil the Lion

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  • The internet is reacting with shock and disgust over the news that Minnesota dentist Walter J Palmer paid $55,000 to go to Zimbabwe to hunt and kill Cecil the Lion, one of Africa’s most famous lions and the star attraction of the Hwange national park – and now PETA is literally calling for the guy’s head.

    Reportedly, Palmer paid guides from Bushman Safaris Zimbabwe to go hunting at night with a spotlight until they found the lion, and tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park. Palmer then shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but failed to kill him, meaning the animal suffered for 40 hours before they tracked him and killed him with a gun. Cecil was left skinned and headless on the outskirts of the park.

    Because Cecil was so popular with tourists, his death is not only the loss of a national icon, but a blow to the local economy in Zimbabwe.

    Palmer admitted through a spokesman that he might be the hunter who shot the beloved lion and “deeply regrets” it, but insisted he had all the proper legal permits. “He’s a big-game hunter; he hunts the world over,” the spokesman said.

    The issue has gone viral across social media and is only getting bigger. The Facebook page of Palmer’s dental clinic has been flooded with comments and threats, and some people are posting the clinic’s contact information to encourage angry phone calls.

    The Yelp reviews for the clinic, needless to say, are getting pretty brutal:

    “If you visit this dentist for services, you are funding his sprees of killing innocent, magnificent African animals that should be protected.”

    “Hope your little trophy was worth it, guy. The entire world has ostracized you. But hey at least you bagged that big bad lion who had absolutely no intention of harming you. You’re a disgrace to humanity and a detriment to our species as a whole.”

    #CecilTheLion has been a leading trend on Twitter for most of the day:

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    Famous animal rights campaigner Ricky Gervais has also picked up on the story

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    PETA, of course, has jumped on the bandwagon in a huge way, declaring this “overblown, overprivileged little man” should be captured, extradited and HANGED for the crime of killing Cecil.

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    And Piers Morgan, not to be out-outraged, would like to hunt Palmer and mount his head on the wall.

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  • In his own statement, Palmer essentially blamed the Bushman Safari guides for not making sure the hunt was legal:

    “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 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. 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.”

  • UPDATE: Jimmy Kimmel Chokes Up Discussing Cecil

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    On Tuesday night’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel discussed the killing of Cecil and the punishment that should await Palmer. He appeared emotional near the end of the four-minute segment, prompting reaction from the crowd.

  • UPDATE: Arnold Schwarzenegger Reacts

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  • Schwarzenegger promoted National Geographic’s 5 For Big Cats initiative, which “provides on-the-ground conservation and education support to preserve big cat populations worldwide.” World Lion Day is August 10.