The American dentist who caused an international uproar by killing an iconic lion during a big-game hunting expedition in Zimbabwe over the summer returned to work at his Minnesota practice Tuesday.
Walter Palmer had been out of the public eye since being linked to the July killing of Cecil, a lion who was a tourist favorite and the subject of academic research.
Today, The Associated Press reports, police blocked off street traffic and a security guard escorted Palmer into his Bloomington-based clinic:
“The small throng of protesters gathered outside the clinic didn’t match the furor in the days after Palmer was named as Cecil’s killer, when hundreds held vigils for the big cat with the black mane and forced River Bluff Dental to temporarily close.
“Just a few protesters were on site when the dentist appeared shortly after 7 a.m. Cathy Pierce repeatedly yelled ‘Extradite Palmer!’ as he entered the practice.
“Pierce said she drove more than an hour from her home in East Bethel to the Bloomington clinic to ‘fight for animals who can’t fight for themselves.’ ”
As we reported in July, Zimbabwean officials called for the extradition of Palmer for his role in the lion’s killing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also announced they were investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of the big cat in July.
Palmer broke his weeks-long silence Sunday, granting interviews with The Associated Press and Minneapolis Star Tribune. He told the Star Tribune he was not in hiding, as some media reports had suggested — just keeping a low profile. He cited safety concerns for his family.
According to the Star Tribune:
“The 55-year-old Bloomington dentist, who has yet to be charged with a crime, on Sunday also reaffirmed what he has said since he was identified by London news media six weeks ago as the hunter who took down Cecil with a compound bow: that the hunt was legal and that he and the others in his party had no clue that the lion was the revered 13-year-old with the distinctive black mane.”
The killing of the big cat touched off a global outcry that called attention to animals’ rights and shined a light on the practice of trophy hunting in Africa.
In July, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., introduced legislation aimed at curtailing trophy hunting called the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act.