No Charges Filed Against Hunter in Killing of Cecil the Lion

AP Photo/Jim Mone
AP Photo/Jim Mone

The quiet coda to last month’s Category 5 Internet freak-out arrives via Reuters, which reports no charges will be filed against Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer in the death of Zimbabwe’s most famous resident, Cecil the Lion.

“Zimbabwe will not charge American dentist Walter Palmer for killing its most prized lion in July because he had obtained legal authority to conduct the hunt, a cabinet minister said on Monday, angering conservationists,” Reuters reports. This is a major change of stance for Zimbabwe, which had previously expressed interest in extraditing Palmer from the United States to face charges.

“We approached the police and then the Prosecutor General, and it turned out that Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order,” said the Environment Minister of Zimbabwe, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri. She nevertheless went on to imply that Palmer would not be granted any further permits for hunting in the country, although she said the dentist was welcome to visit as a tourist.

Two members of Palmer’s hunting party, a game park owner and a professional hunter, still face charges for using bait to lure Cecil the Lion out of his protected habitat so he could be killed. They both deny these charges. The hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, has asked for his indictment to be thrown out by a magistrate.

Palmer maintained all along that he filled out the proper paperwork, was engaged in a legal hunt, and had no idea the lion he mortally wounded with a bow-hunting rig was a protected animal. He was the target of so much incandescent hatred that activists cannot just let him walk away. The Reuters piece mentions the “Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force” is still trying to get the U.S. government to charge Palmer with something, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been “investigating” the case.

CNN recalls insults hurled Palmer’s way on Twitter, including calling him “a poor excuse of a human being,” a “killer,” and “Satan.”

“A Facebook page devoted to shaming Palmer still has more than 17,000 members,” CNN notes. The pressure become so bad that Palmer was forced to close his dental practice for a time.