Walter Palmer, the Minneapolis dentist whose killing of Cecil the lion fueled a global outpouring of hate and disgust, emerged yesterday for an interview conducted jointly by The Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Palmer said that he believes he acted legally and that he was stunned to find out his hunting party had killed one of Zimbabwe’s treasured animals;
“If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study, obviously I wouldn’t have taken it. Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”
Palmer said he shot the lion using an arrow outside the park’s borders, but Cecil didn’t die right away. However, he disputes the accounts that the wounded lion wandered for 40 hours and was finished off with a gun, saying that Cecil was tracked down the next day and killed with an arrow. Palmer shut down several lines of inquiry about the hunt, including how much he paid.
After Palmer was named in late July as the hunter who killed Cecil, his clinic and Eden Prairie home became protest sites, and animal welfare groups vandalized a vacation property he owns in Florida. Palmer has been vilified across social media and his dental practice was shuttered for weeks until it reopened late last month without him.
“I have a lot of staff members, and I’m a little heartbroken at the disruption in their lives.”
Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter who helped Palmer, has been charged with “failure to prevent an illegal hunt.” Honest Ndlovu, whose property is near the park in western Zimbabwe, faces a charge of allowing the lion hunt to occur on his farm without proper authority.
Asked whether he would return to Zimbabwe for future hunts, Palmer said,
“I don’t know about the future. Zimbabwe has been a wonderful country for me to hunt in, and I have always followed the laws.”
The killing of Cecil not only spurred on a worldwide debate about big game hunting but caused many airlines to change their policies with regard to shipping hunting trophies.
Palmer also said the ordeal has been especially hard on his wife and adult daughter, who both felt threatened.
“They’ve been threatened in the social media, and again… I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all.”
My staff and my patients support me and they want me back. I’ve been out of the public eye. That doesn’t mean I’m in hiding. I’ve been among people, family and friends. Location is really not that important.”
Wow. To be stalked by the press, OMG! How does that feel, Walter? To be hunted, unfairly, by hateful people that YOU DID NOTHING TO –what must that feel like? To have your loved ones threatened? What a terrible feeling…. well, if you ask me, the karmic gods are already doing their work. YOU WILL NEVER LIVE THIS DOWN, SIR. No. Not if you live to be 100, this will be in the first sentence of your obit. Real poetic justice would be for you to be killed by a wild animal on one of your “hunts”.