BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Walter Palmer’s dentistry practice in Bloomington was closed on Tuesday. A sign on the front entry directs all questions to a public relations agent in Minneapolis.
The abrupt decision to close is a sign of the fallout after Palmer’s recent safari to Africa.
Outside the dentist office, protester Christopher Flugge said, “Any hunter that is actually worth a damn will probably find it incredibly disrespectful and repulsive.”
Flugge is referring to Palmer’s recent killing of a 13-year-old lion in Zimbabwe. Using a crossbow, Palmer shot the male lion, named Cecil.
But it isn’t just any African lion. As it turns out, Cecil was a living symbol of the nearby Hwange National Park, popular with animal-loving tourists.
The president of Zimbabwe’s Safari Operators Association, Emmanuel Fundira, said, “Information received so far shows that money was exchanged to the tune of around $55,000.”
In a written statement, Palmer said he hired professional guides to assure his hunt was legal.
“I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion,” he said in the statement.
Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements about a black bear he shot and killed in Wisconsin. He received a one-year probation and was fined almost $3,000.
Social media sites are lighting up with nasty comments directed towards Palmer and his hunting party, many of which are too inflammatory to publish.
The feelings of Jean Flugge were calm by comparison.
“It upsets me that people can be so stupid to take a life like that,” she said.
Several plush animal toys have been placed outside of Palmer’s dental office and home, where two performance artists staged an unusual protest involving water guns.
The lion was radio collared when he was shot and was being researched by Oxford’s Brent Stapelkamp.
Devastated by the news, Stapelkamp called Cecil “Zimbabwe’s lion.”
“He really was an ambassador for this country and again we suffered this huge blow, which we find hard to deal with,” he said.
The guide and landowner will appear in Zimbabwe court on Wednesday to face poaching charges.
It appears Cecil was baited and lured out of the park and onto private land, where the farm owner didn’t have a permit for lion.
If convicted, the guide and landowner could face up to 15 years in prison. Palmer said he will cooperate fully but has not yet been contacted by wildlife officials in either Zimbabwe or the U.S.