MINNEAPOLIS – The turmoil surrounding the killing of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe by a Minnesota big-game hunter was playing out around the world Wednesday, with court proceedings against two men, U.S. authorities offering investigatory assistance and the hunter saying that anger toward him has brought his dental practice to a halt.
Walter J. Palmer, 55, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has acknowledged that he shot Cecil the lion with a bow and arrow on July 1 during the hunt that he paid more than $50,000 to arrange. Palmer said in a statement that he thought at the time what he did was legal.
Cecil was living in the Hwange National Park, where it had protected status and was collared as part of a long-term study. The animal became a favorite among tourists and a point of pride for the southern African nation.
Meanwhile, federal authorities in the United States said Wednesday they are poised to assist officials in Zimbabwe in their investigation of Palmer and the two men who were with him when Cecil was shot with a bow and arrow and then finished off 40 hours later with a gunshot.
Laury Marshall Parramore, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said her agency is deeply concerned about the recent killing of Cecil. “We are currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested.”
The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement that it’s also “aware of the situation and looking into the facts.”
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Justice to investigate whether the killing violated endangered species laws.
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