Walter Palmer, the American dentist responsible for the death of Zimbabwe’s beloved Cecil the Lion, will not be facing charges, a Zimbabwean minister told sources on Monday. The big-game hunter killed Cecil during a hunting expedition during a hunting expedition in July.
Palmer and his family faced plenty of backlash after the hunting expedition, receiving threats and seeing demonstrations erupt worldwide. Protests even took place outside of Palmer’s Minnesota office after the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force reported that Cecil had been lured outside of the Hwange National Park and shot with a compound bow.
To make matters worse, it was reported that Cecil lived for another 40 hours after being initially shot before hunters could track him down and and shoot him again with a gun. The lion was beheaded and skinned.
The conservation group also claims that the hunters tried to destroy Cecil’s GPS collar that was being used as part of an Oxford University research project.
Palmer has stated in multiple interviews that he hadn’t seen Cecil’s collar, as it was buried beneath the lion’s mane. However, Palmer also stated that it is not illegal to kill a collared lion.
Social media erupted after the news of Cecil’s death broke. Palmer was called several insults including “a poor excuse of a human being,” “a killer,” and “Satan”. A Facebook group shaming Palmer’s actions still has 17,000 members. Several celebrities such as Cara Delevingne, Alyssa Milano, and Sharon Osbourne also criticized Palmer’s actions.
“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 told reporters in July, “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
Two Zimbabweans have been charged in relation to the lion’s death. Before Monday, officials were calling for Palmer to be extradited to face charges. He has agreed to fully cooperate in the investigation, though he is yet to be contacted by anyone involved.