Until Tuesday, Walt Palmer was just a 55-year-old dentist from suburban Minneapolis who enjoyed hunting big game with a bow, then posing with a grin alongside his kills.
Deer, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, Dall sheep, musk ox, caribou, white rhino, leopard, bear: All felt the sting of Palmer's arrows. Each and every one seems to be pictured somewhere online with the triumphant dentist. (And yes, Palmer stalked California big game, too, including tule elk in Solano County. So there's your local angle.)
Until now, Palmer's fame has been confined to big-game hunting circles. And then he killed Cecil the Lion and became an international celebrity.
Palmer shot the lion, who was something of a celebrity himself, during a hunt earlier this month in Zimbabwe. Reports in Britain's Guardian and Telegraph newspapers suggest Cecil was shot inside or on the border of one of the southern African county's national parks. In addition to being "the most famous creature" in Hwange National Park, Cecil was wearing an electronic collar and being monitored by wildlife biologists.
From the Guardian:
On Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said the man thought to have paid $50,000 (£32,000) for the chance to kill Cecil was ... US citizen Walter Palmer, from a small town near Minneapolis. The man left the lion skinned and headless on the outskirts of the park, the ZCTF’s Johnny Rodrigues said in a statement.
The hunt took place around 6 July. “They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil,” Rodrigues said. “They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometre from the park.”