Death threats have been sent to the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe earlier this month amid growing anger over the protected animal’s slaughter.
Tributes to the butchered lion have poured in thousands of miles away at Dr Walter Palmer’s office in Bloomington, Minnesota, where protesters dressed as ‘dentist hunters’ also threw stuffed lions at his house.
Celebrities including models Cara Delevingne and Candice Swanepoel have also blasted the dentist, calling him a ‘poor excuse of a human being’.
Palmer claims he had trusted his local guides to meet legal guidelines on his trip to Africa, during which he shot Cecil with a crossbow on July 1 before skinning and beheading him.
The hunter’s office and practice website have become a target for animal rights activists disgusted by the dentist’s actions, which have resulted in Zimbabwe authorities demanding to speak with him.
One of the strongest denunciations came from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which said on its Twitter account that Palmer should hang for killing Cecil.
‘If, as reported, this dentist & guides lured #CeciltheLion out of the park with food so as to shoot him on private property because shooting #CeciltheLion in the park would have been illegal, he needs to be extradited, charged, &, preferably, hanged.’
PETA continued: ‘Hunting is a coward’s pastime. To get a thrill at the cost of life this man gunned down loved ‘w/ a high-powered weapon’.
‘All wild animals are beloved by their own, but to hunters like this overblown, over-privileged little man, they’re merely targets.
‘The photograph of this dentist, smiling over the corpse of another animal, will disgust every caring soul in the world’.
The hunter allegedly paid $55,000 (£35,000) for a big game permit on the trip, and said that he did not know that the 13-year-old lion was protected.
However, since his role in Cecil’s death has been uncovered, animal lovers have laid siege to Dr Palmer’s website, posting incredibly negative and abusive reviews.
Some reviews on Yelp, which have been regularly deleted, have suggested violence towards Palmer and his business.
Outrage at Palmer’s actions seethed through the internet, and British supermodel Cara Delevinge tweeted: ‘This #WalterPalmer is a poor excuse of a human being!’
Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel wrote on Instagram: ‘How dare you #walterpalmer !!!! As a South African and as a human being I can’t express how deeply saddened I am by this, what pleasure do you get out of doing such a thing!
‘Seeing these animals alive in their natural habitat is such a blessing, you have to be so sick to want to kill such a majestic creature of God.
‘You come to Africa with your dollars and euros thinking you can buy power by taking advantage of Africa’s poverty and paying people to help you kill an innocent creature.
‘Disgusting! I hope you get what you deserve #walterpalmer.’
Ricky Gervais also tweeted: ‘RIP #CecilTheLion. I’m struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this.’
In an emotional appeal, American television host Jimmy Kimmel asked viewers to donate to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit – those responsible for collaring and tracking Cecil.
Stuffed animals including lions were placed outside of his office, along with a sign that said ‘You are a coward and a killer!’
‘I think they should reconsider their dentist.’ one woman told My Fox Minneapolis of Palmer’s patients. ‘There are plenty of other dentists in the community who are animal advocates and good people.’
Ire against Palmer first erupted when he was identified as the shooter by The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Emmanuel Fundira, the president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe, confirmed at a news conference on Tuesday that Palmer is wanted for the death of Cecil.
Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said ‘we are looking for Palmer’ who allegedly paid $55,000 (£35,000) for a big game permit and traveled from Minneapolis to Africa to kill a lion.
Palmer’s hunting colleagues, professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst and local landowner Honest Ndlovu have today arrived at Hwange Magistrates’ Court to face poaching charges.
If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison.
‘We arrested two people and now we are looking for Palmer in connection with the same case,’ said Charamba.
The dentist is said to be somewhere in the Twin Cities, though calls to numbers listed for his home and office went unanswered Tuesday.
His dental practice was closed when reporters went to knock on the door and a note on the father-of-two’s home address referred all callers to a public relations firm in Minneapolis,
The much loved big cat whose death sent Palmer into hiding was wounded by an arrow after he was allegedly lured out of the national park by the hunter’s bait.
After tracking the injured beast, Cecil was eventually found and shot dead. His corpse was then skinned and the head hacked off as a trophy.
However, speaking to the Star Tribune on Tuesday morning, Dr Palmer said he was unaware of Cecil’s fame and expressed regret but denied any illegality and laid any blame firmly at the door of his guides.
‘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. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.’
Read more: dailymail.co.uk