Authorities in Zimbabwe now know the identity of the man who shot and killed Cecil the lion, Africa’s most famous wildlife tourist attraction. An American dentist and big game hunter, Walter James Palmer, is believed to have paid local guides $50,000 to lure Cecil out of Hwange National Park, where he shot the animal with a crossbow before tracking it for several hours and killing it. The lion’s skinned and decapitated body was found over the weekend. “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,” Palmer said in a statement.
While killing lions in Zimbabwe is not illegal, Palmer was not issued a permit to hunt lions as part of his 2015 hunting quota, and therefore is accused of poaching. Palmer is an experienced hunter: he has hunted elk in California, caribou in Newfoundland, as well as moose, deer, and buffalo. In 2008 he was convicted for poaching a black bear in Wisconsin. Palmer lives in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Internet is now hunting Palmer, with Facebook groups calling for a boycott of his dental practice.