Cecil the Lion's Death
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Cecil the Lion was a 13-year-old celebrity black-maned lion who was fatally shot by Walter James Palmer, an American dentist and hunter from Bloomington, Minnesota, at the Hwange national park on July 1st, 2015.
On July 1st, 2015, the treasured lion of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park was found dead on the outskirts of the habitat, skinned and beheaded after being fatally wounded by a hunter with an arrow and rifle bullet. The news of Cecil's gruesome death was met with public outrage in Zimbabwe and the international conservation communities overseas, as the lion was well-known for his natural flair in human interactions. In the ensuing investigation by the Zimbabwean officials, two men were charged with poaching, Theo Bronkhorst and Bushmen Safaris, the owners of the bordering properties where the lion was killed.
On July 27th, The Telegraph published an exclusive report identifying Cecil's killer as Walter James Palmer, an American dentist and avid hunter from Bloomington, Minnesota, citing two independent sources and a copy of Palmer's hunting permit. According to the article, Palmer reportedly paid the local guides $55,000 (£35,000) to lure Cecil half a mile outside of the national park using bait for an opportunity to hunt him with a bow and arrow. When he failed to pin down the famous lion with the arrow, Palmer and his guides then tracked him for nearly 48 hours before locating and killing the wounded animal.
On April 28th, the hashtag #CecilTheLion rose to the top of the trending topics list on Twitter in the United States; according to Topsy Analytics, #CecilTheLion was mentioned over 127,000 times within the first 24 hours. In addition, many took their rage to the alleged hunter's Yelp page for his dentistry practice by downvoting his ratings and flooding the image gallery with shock media.
In addition, there are at least two online petitions seeking justice and reprimand in the wake of the news, including one petition submitted to the White House's We The People platform demanding the extradition of U.S. citizen Walter James Palmer to be tried in the criminal justice system in Zimbabwe and another campaign on Care2Petition requesting Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe to stop issuing hunting permits to kill endangered animals.
In response to the growing public outcry regarding the death of Cecil, Palmer issued a statement claiming ignorance about the lion's identity and arguing that he had hired professional guides who assured him the hunt was legal.
On July 29th, Jimmy Kimmel discussed Cecil's death during an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, during which he became noticeably distraught at the end of the segment (shown below). In the first 72 hours, the video gained over 6.7 million views and 13,300 comments.
On the following day, the Associated Press published an interview with actress Betty White, who expressed sorrow for the lion's death and criticized Palmer for killing the animal.
"It's such a heartbreaker. You can't even talk about it, and to see this king of the jungle and personifying it in every way, this gorgeous creature. How can somebody do that?"
Zimbabwe's Official Response
On July 31st, Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri stated that she has filed a request to have Palmer extradited from the United States to stand trial for the killing of Cecil.
"The illegal killing was deliberate. We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal actions."
On October 12th, Muchinguri told reporters that the Zimbabwean government would stop pursuing the extradition of Palmer and clear him of wrongdoings, as his travel documents turned out to be in compliance with the country's hunting laws. Muchinguri further stated that the government would review how it issues hunting licenses in the wake of the incident.
"We approached the police and then the Prosecutor General, and it turned out that [Walter] Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order."
The announcement was immediately met with criticism from the country's animal conservation group Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, which told Reuters that it still plans to pursue legal action against Palmer in the United States.
"The fact is the law was broken. We are going to get our advocates in America to actually see what they can do to bring justice to him."
On August 3rd, 2015, Delta Airlines announced they would no longer ship lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos or buffalo as freight. The same day, the official American Airlines Twitter feed posted an announcement that the company had banned the transport of the same animals, garnering upwards of 2,900 favorites and 2,500 retweets (shown below).
On the following day, The Washington Post reported that a spokeswoman at United Airlines revealed the company would no longer be shipping the five species. Additionally, the article revealed the United Parcel Service would continue to ship the trophy animals, claiming the the company prefers to "avoid making judgments on the appropriateness of the contents." On August 7th, a petition was created on Change.org titled "End the Transport of Hunting Trophies," which received upwards of 51,000 signatures in the first week.
 The Guardian – Zimbabwean authorities hunt Spaniard accused of killing Cecil the lion
 The Telegraph – Cecil the lion's killer revealed as American dentist
 BBC – Zimbabwe's 'iconic' lion Cecil killed by hunter
 Trophy Hunt America – Walt Palmer
 Daily Mail – The hunter hunted – American dentist who paid $55,000 to kill Africa's most famous lion goes into hiding and says he 'did nothing wrong' as Zimbabwe police demand to speak to him
 Reddit – Cecil the Lion's Killer Revealed as American
 The Daily Dot – American dentist identified as killer of beloved lion
 Salon – The dentist who reportedly killed Cecil the lion is getting absolutely destroyed on Yelp
 Topsy – Tweet Counts for #CecilTheLion
 Yelp – Walter J Palmer, DDS
 WeThePeople – Extradite Minnesotan Walter James Palmer to face justice in Zimbabwe.
 The Petition Site – DEMAND JUSTICE FOR CECIL THE LION IN ZIMBABWE
 Associated Press – Heres what Betty White thinks of Cecil the lion's killing
 The Guardian – Cecil the lion
 Delta – Shipments of lion
 Twitter – @AmericanAir
 The Washington Post – While airlines ban hunting trophy shipments
 Change.org – End the Transport of Hunting Trophies
Jul 28, 2015 at 09:49PM EDT
Jul 28, 2015 at 08:46PM EDT
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