Sunday 18 March 2018

Cecil the lion's killer Walter Palmer in hiding as global anger reaches hometown

This handout picture taken on October 21, 2012 and released on July 28, 2015 by the Zimbabwe National Parks agency shows a much-loved Zimbabwean lion called
This handout picture taken on October 21, 2012 and released on July 28, 2015 by the Zimbabwe National Parks agency shows a much-loved Zimbabwean lion called "Cecil" AFP PHOTO / ZIMBABWE NATIONAL PARKS

David Millward

The American hunter unmasked yesterday as the killer of Cecil the lion has gone into hiding as the angry response spread across the internet and to Walter Palmer's Minnesota hometown.

On the practice door of Dr Palmer’s dental surgery in Bloomington, Minnesota, a protestor has fixed a flysheet with a picture of a beaming Dr Palmer and another hunter behind the body of a dead lion.

“Dr Walt Palmer – doesn’t he look proud of himself?, the flysheet read, before describing the demise of the “beloved Cecil”.

In comparison to much of the vitriol which has accompanied the unmasking of Dr Palmer, the small shrine of toy animals that greeted visitors outside the practice's door to was a pretty gentle rebuke.

The little gaggle comprised of a moose, two toy lions, a bear, a leopard, a tiger and a chimp. But the message of condemnation was clear

Press inquiries, meanwhile were directed to a Public Relations consultant, who later did issue a statement on the cosmetic dentist’s behalf.

Over the road from the surgery, a non-descript building on the outskirts of Minneapolis, a police officer kept an eye on proceedings, in case anger was demonstrated in a more forceful manner.

But there was little doubt that Dr Palmer is facing something of a backlash, even in his backyard

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources boasts of the state’s rich hunting heritage, but the death of Cecil seems to have been too much for people to stomach.

Through his public relations consultant, Dr Palmer expressed his regret at killing Cecil and insisted that he believed he was on a legal hunt.

"I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the US but said he "will assist them in any inquiries they may have".

"Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion," he added.

This was not the first time Dr Palmer’s sporting interests have caused him some difficulty. In 2008 he pleaded guilty to lying to the authorities over where he had shot a black bear during the 2006 hunting season.

Last night he was not to be found, either at the surgery or his five-bedroom 4,007 square feet home, estimated as being worth just over $1 million in a leafy Minneapolis suburb.

Dr Palmer’s neighbours, who professed to not knowing him personally, voiced their displeasure at his role in the death of Cecil.

"I find it very disturbing. I think to shoot a beautiful creature like that and have a hunt arranged so you can mount a trophy on the wall is something which should be consigned to history,” said Jodie Root,62, a neighbour was upset by Mr Palmer's trophy hunting.

"My husband is a fly fisherman, but he catches and releases. He still enjoys the hunt, but then he sends it back to nature.

"If you have enough money you can play any game you want."

Laura Robbins, 49, who lives next door added: "I am shocked. I don't like anything like that, I think is is awful. It breaks my heart."

Lynda Johnson, 69, who had been a patient, said she was outraged.

“I have been a vegetarian for more than 30 years. God has given us enough to eat without killing animals.

“I don’t have words to describe how I feel. There are no words I can use and still remain a lady.”

A web page that appears to belong to Dr Palmer has been flooded with angry comments from people who accuse him of being immoral and an egotist.

The Google profile of a Walter Palmer, who appears to be a dentist from Minnesota, now includes comments condemning his actions.

Among the angry commenters was Blake Rutherford who wrote: "You have stolen this animal from the world Dr Palmer. The repercussions of your actions will haunt your business and reputation. I feel bad for your family and hope you can find a way to correct your actions. May I suggest free dental work for life at the local zoo."

Another poster, Venu Dayana, wrote: "Walter, you should be ashamed of yourself for what you did. Your conscious knows what a horrible sin you committed. Your karma will get back to you."

Others called him "pathetic", "miserable" and "a scum bag".

Mr Palmer has apologised for killing Cecil, saying he didn't realised the lion was so well-known.

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