Internet’s Most Hated Man Thought Hunting Lion Was Legal

An American is on the lookout after he allegedly shot a lion with a crossbow while on a big game hunt in Zimbabwe.

Published
World
2 min read


The protected lion known as Cecil in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. (Photo: AP)

An avid American hunter accused of illegally killing a protected lion in Zimbabwe said Tuesday that he thought everything about his trip was legal and wasn’t aware of the animal’s status “until the end of the hunt.”

Walter Palmer, who has a felony record in the US related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin, released his statement through a public relations firm after being identified by Zimbabwean authorities as the American involved in the July hunt. They said he is being sought on poaching charges, but Palmer said he hasn’t heard from US or Zimbabwean authorities.

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
— Palmer, a dentist who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie.

According to US court records, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the US Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorised zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000.

Palmer was identified by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe and police as the American facing poaching charges for the crossbow killing of Cecil, a well-known and protected lion. The animal’s death has outraged animal conservationists and others.

Local authorities in Zimbabwe allege the lion was lured from a protected area and killed in early July. Zimbabwean conservationists said the American allegedly paid $50,000 for the trip.

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