MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A researcher who studied Cecil the lion, whose death in 2015 by the bow of a Minnesota dentist sparked international outrage, says that the trophy hunter and his party let the lion suffer for at least 10 hours before shooting it with a final arrow.
Oxford University biologist Andrew Loveridge, who studied the lion in Zimbabwe for nearly a decade, has written a book titled, “Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil and the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats.” An excerpt of the book was published over the weekend in National Geographic.
In the excerpt, Loveridge writes that Cecil suffered “incredible cruelty for at least 10 hours, severely wounded and slowly dying.” He added that early media reports that the animal lived 40 hours after being shot were likely inaccurate, due to the nature of Cecil’s wound.
Walter Palmer, a Bloomington dentist, admitting to shooting and killing the collared lion. He said that he believed the hunt was legal, saying that he trusted the expertise of his guide, Theo Bronkhorst.
In the excerpt, Loveridge wrote that the hunters tied an elephant carcass to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the protected Hwange National Park. He says Bronkhorst admitted to “panicking” after seeing the lion’s collar, removing it and hanging it from a tree.
The Oxford researcher alleges that Palmer and Bronkhorst knowingly let the big cat suffer needlessly, speculating that Palmer perhaps sought to bag his trophy as a bow-hunted specimen, meaning that he couldn’t shoot the wounded cat with a bullet and still have it count. One member of the hunting party allegedly told the researcher that he could hear Cecil struggling to breathe.
“If this was the case,” Loveridge writes, “Cecil the lion died slowly and painfully to allow a hunter the ultimate vanity of claiming he had killed a huge lion with a bow and arrow.”
After Palmer was identified as the trophy hunter, outrage erupted across the world. The dentist retreated from his practice and the public eye, as there were protests outside his Bloomington office. At one point, a sign outside his building was spray-painted with the words “perv” and “scum.”
Officials in Zimbabwe said they would charge Palmer, but that plan was later dropped. His guide, Bronkhorst, was charged in Zimbabwe with failing to prevent an illegal hunt, but he later argued that the charges were too vague, and the court agreed.