MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Hundreds of protesters showed up Wednesday at the Bloomington office of a Minnesota dentist who killed a beloved lion named Cecil.
Dr. Walter Palmer, of Eden Prairie, said he regrets killing the lion in a hunt earlier this month in Zimbabwe. He said he didn’t know the 13-year-old, black-maned lion was protected and collared for a research project.
The government in Zimbabwe says Palmer and his hunting guides lured Cecil from a national park and shot him. They’re seeking poaching charges against the dentist and his hunting guides.
Outside Palmer’s dentist office, protesters gathered Wednesday as police watched the crowd. They said the number of protesters who turned out was far less than the number of people who RSVP’d on Facebook. Still, those who gathered, like Alan Miller of Wayzata, made their feelings known.
“I just came down here to express my disgust, actually, by what he did,” Miller said. “I would have given anything up to, just for 20 minutes, be around people who are expressing this displeasure.”
Many protesters brought signs. One that was posted on the office’s front door said, “Rot in hell.”
More than four hours before the protest was scheduled to take place that afternoon, people were in the parking lot. One of them was Twin Cities artist Mark Balma, who was working on a large painting of Cecil to donate to an organization that protects animals.
“It’s my gentle, quite protest,” Balma said.
Sarah Madison brought her two children to protest, including her 3-year-old son, who dressed in a lion costume and carried a sign that said, “Protect me. Don’t hunt me.” Madison said the hunt, even if legal, was “immoral” and “disgraceful.”
Some people left little stuffed animals, many of them lions, on the office’s front stoop.
Although there was a lot of activity at the suburban business on Wednesday, the practice is currently not seeing patients. There’s been no word on when it might reopen.
Palmer has remained secluded as the story of Cecil’s death has started an online firestorm. Celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and Ricky Gervais have denounced the 55-year-old dentist, who reportedly paid about $50,000 for the hunt.
Politicians have also spoken up on the incident, and PETA, the animal rights group, even suggested that Palmer should be extradited, charged and “hanged” if his actions are shown to have been illegal.
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