Cecil The Lion is not going to be forgotten. The Zimbabwean Conservation Force has plans to use the famous lion’s remains to create an anti-poaching memorial, TMZ reports. Cecil was a well-known male lion in Zimbabwe who had become a symbol of the southern African nation. He was killed by a hunting party which included an American dentist. The group lured the animal from protected “free-roam” lands so that they could legally kill the animal. Cecil, a 13-year-old lion, was shot by a bow and arrow, and was then stalked by hunters for several hours until they finally shot him dead, decapitated his head, and skinned his body. The hunters then tried to remove Cecil’s GPS tracking collar which is also prohibited.
The news of the Cecil the Lion killing has angered people the world over, but it has hit conservationists in Zimbabwe especially hard, the Telegraph reports.
“He never bothered anybody,” said Johnny Rodrigues, the head of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, of Cecil The Lion “He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at.”
According to the Telegraph, Zimbabwean authorities believe Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, paid $55,000 USD for the opportunity to shoot Cecil with a bow and arrow. In a statement, Palmer claimed to have no knowledge that the animal he killed was well-known. He also asserts that the hunt was legal.
“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,” Palmer said.
“I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the US 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.”
He will probably be hearing from those authorities very soon, if he hasn’t already. The Zimbabwe National Parks issued a statement confirming that those involved in Cecil the Lion’s hunt will be charged.
“All persons implicated in this case are due to appear in court facing poaching charges,” the statement said.
“Both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt.”
When news that he was implicated in Cecil’s death hit the internet, his dental practice, River Bluff Dental, was hit with a flurry of negative Yelp reviews.
“Hey Walter, you heartless bastard,” Yelp reviewer, Kim T. wrote. “Apparently, drilling, pulling and ripping out human teeth wasn’t enough satisfaction for you. Instead, you decided to fly all the way to Zimbabwe, paid 55k, lured out Cecil from his protected enclosure, shoot him with your bow and arrow…”
People have also turned his dental office into a mini-shrine for Cecil the Lion, leaving stuffed animals and disparaging messages for the Minnesota dentist.
Heavy.com reports that Palmer has since taken down his business’ Facebook page and website and disconnected his phone line.
Other than Cecil the Lion, the real victims of his slaughter are the cubs that he left behind. Conservation officials in Zimbabwe say that Cecil’s death will cause other male lion to vie for control over the pride he led. These lions often kill the cubs that were left fatherless.
So, pretty soon, Cecil the Lion’s only living legacy may be the hearts he touched while he roamed free in Zimbabwe’s National Parks.
Photo via Zimbabwe National Parks via AFP-Getty Images (File)