As the Cecil the Lion story continues to unfold, we learned on Monday that Zimbabwe has decided not to charge dentist Walter Palmer in the death of the lion. The dentist shot and killed Cecil, Zimbabwe's much -loved black-maned lion, during a hunt that Zimbabwe now says was carried out with proper legal authorization to complete.
Palmer is a big game hunter and dentist who lives in Minnesota. A massive scandal was created when news broke that he had killed the famous lion, Cecil, who tourists knew by name in Western Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.
According to Zimbabwe's environmental minister, Palmer secured all the appropriate hunting papers prior to the hunt. As a result, Zimbabwe cannot charge the dentist for killing the lion with his bow and arrow. The minister further said that Palmer can visit Zimbabwe at any time in the future if he wishes to be a tourist there, but he will not be issued permits to hunt in Zimbabwe again.
Animal Conservationists Unhappy with Zimbabwe's Decision
An animal conservation group called Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force was not happy about the news from the environmental minister. The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says that Palmer committed a crime when he shot and killed the lion. The group says it plans to initiate a legal action against Palmer in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also conducting a special investigation into the incident.
The 55-year-old dentist had to close his practice last July due to the large demonstrations that animal rights advocates held in front of his office building in Bloomington, Minnesota. Palmer did not return to work until early September.
2 Men Facing Charges Relating to Cecil's Death
Palmer continues to maintain that his hunt was legal. He says that his hunting party did not purposefully seek to kill Cecil, the famed and beloved lion. Still, two others are facing charges in the death of Cecil. A professional hunter in Zimbabwe has been accused of using bait to tempt Cecil into leaving his habitat so the hunters could kill him. Also, a game park owner has been charged with unlawfully letting the hunt take place.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of the criminal trials involving the two accused men. It will also be interesting to see if the media attention caused by Cecil's death will inspire stricter regulations to limit big game hunting activities in the future.
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