The big game hunter says he had no idea Cecil was collared and was surprised by the international uproar.
The Minnesota dentist and big game hunter who reportedly killed a black maned lion dubbed ‘Cecil’ has broken his month-long silence, revealing several insights about his kill that he claims the media and his critics got wrong.
For six weeks, hunter Walter Palmer was hounded by the press and an anti-hunting Internet campaign after allegations emerged that he had lured the lion — dubbed “Cecil” by some locals and scientists who were studying him — out of a game preserve, shot him with a crossbow and had to track him for 40 hours before finally taking the lion. Critics called for Palmer’s extradition to Zimbabwe for illegally killing the lion, lawmakers asked the feds to investigate any wrongdoing, and an Internet mob called for a boycott of his business and even wished the dentist physical harm.
Palmer allegedly “went into hiding” for six weeks and finally broke his silence in speaking to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Press in a short interview last week before returning to his Eden Prairie practice because his patients and staff “want me back.”
The paper posted the entire transcript of the interview, and here are some things Palmer claims the critics got wrong:
- Palmer was not in “hiding” — Palmer claims he was “out of the public eye” staying with “family and friends,” but he declined to say who specifically he was staying with.
- The hunt was legal — Palmer’s lawyer says the dentist believed all the “papers and permits were obtained” to legally hunt the lion and he believes the area in which the lion was killed was open for hunting.
- The lion was taken with a vertical compound bow — Press reports claimed the lion was shot with a crossbow. In his interview, Palmer says the lion was shot with a vertical compound bow — both in the initial shot and the final dispatching shot.
- Palmer didn’t know the lion was collared — Palmer claims he didn’t see a collar on the lion when he shot it. He also claims that many lions taken in the area are collared for research purposes.
- It is legal to kill a collared lion — Palmer and his lawyer claim taking a lion collared for research is legal.
- Palmer may fight extradition — Despite reports that the Zimbabwe government is cooling on the idea of extraditing Palmer for a hearing on the Cecil kill, the hunter says he will hire a lawyer if such a request is made.
- Palmer has been to Africa multiple times — While he’s not sure he’ll ever go back, Palmer did claim he’s an experienced African big game hunter with at least four previous visits.
- Palmer was surprised by the uproar — While he claims he doesn’t “have a level of dislike for any person or special interest group” that criticized his hunt, Palmer says he didn’t know about any controversy until a lawyer called him about a British newspaper report on the kill.
- Palmer is afraid for his family — The dentist says local police are protecting him and his business from potential threats to his life, but he’s still worried about the safety of his wife and daughter.
“It’s been especially hard for my wife and daughter,” Palmer said in the interview. “They’ve been threatened in the media … and the social media. … I don’t understand that level of humanity, to come after people not involved at all.”