The US dentist who shot Cecil the lion dead on an off-the-books hunting expedition has broken his silence to say he’s returning to work.
Ever since the international condemnation that followed news of the demise of Zimbabwe’s beloved animal, protestors have targeted Walter Palmer’s Minnesota home and dental practice as the medical professional went AWOL.
And now he's coming back, apparently out of compassion for his colleagues, telling Associated Press, “I have a lot of staff members, and I’m a little heartbroken at the disruption in their lives. I’m a health professional. I need to get back to my staff and my patients, and they want me back. That’s why I’m back.”
Despite several top level Zimbabwean officials calling for Palmer's extradition, no official lawsuits have yet been filed against him, and the man himself is still insistent he acted legally.
Palmer has claimed that had he known the fame of the lion, he wouldn’t have killed it.
“If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study, obviously I wouldn't have taken it. Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”
Cecil, a long-time fixture at Hwange National Park, was shot using an arrow from his compound bow outside the park's borders according to Palmer. He followed it up by saying he didn’t leave it dying for 40 hours before killing it like the headlines read, but rather tracked it killed it with a second arrow the next day.
During the 25 minute interview, Palmer was reluctant to offer further detail about the hunt, how much he paid for it and of other killing safaris he’d had in the past. Risking further ire from animal conservationists, he didn’t rule out any future hunts in Africa, either: "I don't know about the future – Zimbabwe has been a wonderful country for me to hunt in, and I have always followed the laws.”
Moreover, he he also adamant he hasn't been forced into hiding: “I've been out of the public eye. That doesn't mean I'm in hiding,” Palmer said. 'I've been among people, family and friends. Location is really not that important."
What is important, of course, is that more is done to hamper hunts like this taking place in the future.
It seems the only good news to come out this tragedy so far is that Cecil's killing led to Zimbabwe tightening regulations for lion, elephant and leopard hunting, along with three major U.S. airlines changed policies to ban shipment of the trophies.
As for whether Palmer’s clientele return for their checkups remains to be seen.
[Via: The Telegraph]