The American dentist in the centre of a public outcry over the slaying of a protected lion has reportedly engaged the services of a PR firm to help deal with the fallout.
Police in Zimbabwe want to interview Dr. Walter J Palmer for the July 1 attack on Cecil with a bow and arrow wielded by the dentist. Thirteen-year-old Cecil was allegedly lured out of Hwange National Park by Dr. Palmer’s bait.
After Cecil was hit, it took two more days to track him down and kill him with a gun. The animal was then beheaded, and skinned.
Dr. Palmer’s hunting companions have already been arrested and will appear in a Zimbabwe court next week on illegal poaching charges.
After being publicly identified by The Daily Telegraph, Dr. Palmer hired J. Austin & Associates, a public relations firm.
In a statement issued by the PR firm, Dr. Palmer stated, “In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.
“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favourite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he continued. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.
“I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
Cecil was 13-years-old had been wearing a radio collar as part of a research project, which was allegedly removed by the hunters after the kill.
An avid hunter, Palmer, who has previously been convicted for poaching a bear in Wisconsin, has bragged of his conquests in photos posted online, posing with a dead leopard, another lion, and a rhinoceros, all killed with a bow and arrow.
The online backlash against Palmer has been swift and uncompromising, with comments flooding the Yelp page of his dental practice.
Among the statements, “You should be in jail, and you should hang your head in shame,” “Shame on you, killing a majestic creature,” and “Do not see a blood thirsty psychopath for dental work. He may decide to add your severed head to his mounted collection.”