Tuesday 20 February 2018

Dentist faces charges in US for killing of lion

Walter Palmer
Walter Palmer
Cecil the lion
Protesters hold signs during a rally outside the River Bluff Dental clinic against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota

Harriet Alexander in Johannesburg

Walter Palmer, the dentist who killed Cecil the lion, is facing the threat of prosecution in the US.

Officials in the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Attorney's Office are examining a complaint made by Betty McCollum, a Democrat congresswoman at Dr Palmer's home state of Minnesota.

It is understood that they are taking the complaint seriously and Congresswoman McCollum said that Dr Palmer could face prosecution.

She has asked officials to examine whether Dr Palmer broke American laws relating to conspiracy, bribing of foreign officials as well as participating in the illegal hunting of a protected species.

"To bait and kill a threatened animal, like this African lion, for sport cannot be called hunting, but rather a disgraceful display of callous cruelty," she said.

"I will also continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pursue laws that protect iconic, threatened and endangered animals around the world from barbaric 'sport hunting' at the hands of ultra-wealthy elites."

In a letter addressed to his "valued" patients, Walter Palmer said he had "no idea" the lion was so revered and that his business has suffered as a result.

Dr Palmer, who has faced a huge online backlash, insists he thought the hunt was legal and did not know the animal was protected.

"As you may have already heard, I have been in the news over the last few days for reasons that have nothing to do with my profession or the care I provide for you," he wrote in the letter, seen by Fox News.

He said he was a "lifelong hunter" in the letter and rarely discussed the hobby with his patients because he knew it was a "divisive" and "emotionally charged" topic.

Irish Independent

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