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MN Dentist Under Fire for Zimbabwe Lion Hunt

The Animal Rights Coalition wants an end to big-game hunts after the killing of a lion in Africa by a Minnesota big-game hunter. Credit: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr.
The Animal Rights Coalition wants an end to big-game hunts after the killing of a lion in Africa by a Minnesota big-game hunter. Credit: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr.
July 29, 2015

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Protests are planned today at the office of a Minnesota dentist who has come under fire for hunting down a lion in Zimbabwe.

Walter Palmer, 55, of Eden Prairie reportedly spent $50,000 for the big-game hunt, where he killed a lion July 1 after it allegedly had been lured out of the protection of a national park.

Chelsea Hassler, outreach director of the Animal Rights Coalition, said that lion, which was left skinned and beheaded, turned out to be a local favorite that even had a name, "Cecil," and "was a beloved lion and well-known to locals in the area. The lion was actually not killed by the bow and arrow, but wounded - and not actually shot until the following day."

Reports say poaching charges are being brought against two men from Zimbabwe, and Palmer is being sought. Through a prepared statement, Palmer said he didn't know Cecil was collared and part of a study, and that to his knowledge, everything about the hunt was legal and handled properly.

U.S., Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said to bait and kill a threatened animal isn't a sport but a disgraceful display of callous cruelty.

Beyond this case, Hassler said, the Animal Rights Coalition and animal supporters across the country and internationally oppose these types of big-game hunts altogether.

"There's no need for it," she said. "It's primarily for trophies and just the thrill of the sport, I guess. So, for us, we'd like to see it come to an end, definitely."

This isn't Palmer's first brush with the law and hunting. In 2008, he pleaded guilty for shooting and killing a black bear in Wisconsin outside of an authorized hunting zone.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN