Animal lovers flocked to the Bloomington, Minnesota, office of dentist Walter Palmer on Tuesday to pay tribute to Cecil the Lion, who allegedly was slain by Palmer and his hunting partners earlier this month in Zimbabwe.
African wildlife officials on Tuesday accused Palmer, 55, of shooting the iconic lion with a crossbow after he and his hunting partners lured 13-year-old Cecil from a protected area. The hunters reportedly tracked Cecil for 40 hours before shooting the lion with a gun, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports. The lion was beheaded and skinned, and its tracking collar was removed, according to CNN.
Palmer said he believed the hunt was legal.
"I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits," Palmer said in a statement. "To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted."
He also said he didn't know the lion was famous.
"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," Palmer said. "I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt."
Palmer reportedly is wanted on poaching charges, but he said has not been contacted by Zimbabwean or American authorities. Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said Theo Bronkhorst and Honest Ndlovu, a hunter and private game park owner respectively, also face poaching charges. Rodrigues said Palmer paid Bronkhorst and Ndlovu more than $50,000 to hunt the lion.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.