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Profile view of lion resting in dry grass landscape

Source: Adriano Argenio / Getty

A Minnesota dentist who embarked on a guided bow hunting trip for big game in Zimbabwe claims that he had no idea the lion he killed was under protection and that he relied on the professionalism of his local guides to ensure the hunt was legal.

55 year old Walter Palmer, released a statement Tuesday after he was identified by Zimbabwean authorities as the American involved in the July lion hunt. According to the authorities, Palmer is being sought on poaching charges, however Palmer said he hasn’t heard from either U.S. or Zimbabwean authorities.

In his statement Palmer said:

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt.”

He also said his guides had proper permits, and as far as he was aware everything was handled properly.  According to local authorities the lion was lured from a protected area and killed in early July.

Zimbabwean conservationists said Palmer supposedly paid $50,000 for the guided trip.  The lion’s death has caused an outcry among animal conservationists and others.

Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or more commonly known as PETA had this to say regarding the lion’s murder:

“To get a thrill at the cost of a life, this man gunned down a beloved lion, Cecil with a high-powered weapon,”

Walter Palmer also has a felony record in the U.S. related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin.  U.S. court records show Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 for making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin.

According to court documents, Palmer did in fact have a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to cover it up as being killed elsewhere. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000.

 

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