Minnesota dentist Walter J. Palmer, who killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in July of this year, has finally opened up about the incident. He gave an interview to two Minneapolis reporters Sunday.
Palmer took questions from two reporters for around 20 minutes about the safari hunt in early July where he and his guides lured the famous Zimbabwe icon Cecil the Lion off the protected reserve and killed him on private land.
As reported extensively on the Inquisitr, meat was tied to the back of their vehicle, luring Cecil the Lion out of the protected reserve and on to private property, where he was shot with a bow and arrow.
The lion managed to initially evade his hunters and they then tracked him down and finally finished him off, cutting off the animal’s head, then skinning him and leaving the carcass behind. According to reports it took them 40 hours to accomplish this while the lion suffered from its injuries.
Walter Palmer, hunter who killed Cecil the Lion, gives first interview: Walter Palmer, the suburban Minneapoli… http://t.co/zuowp0jhln
— Silicon Angel (@SiliconAngel) September 7, 2015
According to the Mirror Online, since the world globally condemned him for his actions, Palmer has been keeping a low profile, but after several weeks of silence he has now opened up about the incident and says his Bloomington dental practice will reopen Tuesday. He now hopes to get both his professional and private life back on track.
Palmer, 55, has not been charged with a crime, despite the fact that there were calls for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face his accusers.
According to Palmer, the hunt was legal and he said he and his guides had no idea his prey was Cecil the Lion, a 13-year-old, well-loved and respected animal who wore a GPS tracking collar for a scientific study.
As reported in the Star Tribune, during the interview, where he was accompanied by his attorney Joe Friedberg and a public relations consultant, he said he is heartbroken at the disruption to the lives of his many staff members.
“I have a lot of staff members, and I’m a little heartbroken at the disruption in their lives… And I’m a health professional. I need to get back to my staff and my patients, and they want me back. That’s why I’m back.”
When the subject of the hunt was addressed, Palmer repeated his initial statement defending his actions, while Friedberg stressed, “Everything was done properly. This was a legal hunt for a lion in Zimbabwe. And because of the professionalism of the people who had to help him, a lion was taken.”
All Palmer had to say on the issue was that he had wounded a lion and tracked it, finishing it off with another arrow, but he said this took far less time that the 40 hours reported in earlier media accounts.
Speaking of his absence from the public eye since the news broke of him killing Cecil the Lion, Palmer said, “I’ve been out of the public eye seeing family and friends.”
— Aran Mathai (@AranSPEAKS) September 7, 2015
Making it sound like typical time off from work, Palmer stressed that he was not in hiding as various media reports had said, but was just keeping a low profile because of “some safety issues” for his family.
“This has been especially hard on my wife and my daughter.”
“They’ve been threatened in the social media, and again … I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all.”
According to Friedberg, the lawyer is merely an unpaid consultant to Palmer saying he “doesn’t need a lawyer,” at least until either the Zimbabwean or US government makes a legal claim against the dentist. However, he says he can’t see that happening as there are “no official allegations that he’s done anything wrong.”
In Sunday’s interview, Palmer reiterated his claim that he and his safari guides did not realize that they had killed a lion that was so revered by Zimbabweans and safari tourists. He said the tracking collar was not visible during the nighttime hunt and was hidden in Cecil the Lion’s distinctive black mane. He did state, however, that it is not illegal to kill a collared lion.
While Zimbabwean authorities want Palmer extradited to face charges in the killing of Cecil the Lion, legal experts doubt that this will happen.
However the safari guide, Theo Bronkhorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, the owner of the property on which Cecil the Lion was killed, were charged with participating in an illegal hunt and if convicted could face a stay in prison. Bronkhorst continues to say that they had done everything above board.
Palmer was alleged to have paid $50,000 for the hunt, but said Sunday that the reports were wrong. However, he didn’t say whether the amount paid was less or more than that figure.
There is still no confirmation of what finally became of Cecil the Lion’s head and skin, and Palmer gave no details on that.
While there are worries that protests might once again surround Palmer’s place of business when he reopens, Bloomington Police Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said Sunday that they are not going to dedicate personnel to guard the property.
“We still have a security camera out in the lot there. We knew, eventually, he was going to return.”
[Photo: River Bluff Dental by Adam Bettcher / Getty Images News