Dentist who killed lion sends letter to patients explaining actions

In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. (AP)

Walter Palmer, the dentist who was heavily criticized for his killing of a well-known lion in Zimbabwe, sent a letter to his patients in regards to the situation.

Palmer has been at the center of the media spotlight this week after the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe and police charged the dentist with the killing of Cecil the lion.

Palmer sent the following letter to patients at his practice in Bloomington, Minn. on July 28:

    "To my valued patients: As you may have already heard, I have been in the news over the last few days for reasons that have nothing to do with my profession or the care I provide for you. I want you to know of this situation and my involvement In addition to spending time with my family, one of my passions outside dentistry is hunting. I've been a life-long hunter since I was a child growing up in North Dakota. I don't often talk about hunting with my patients because it can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic. I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting.

    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 favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. 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. That was never my intention. The media interest in this matter - along with a substantial number of comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general - has disrupted our business and our ability to see our patients. For that disruption, I apologize profoundly for this inconvenience and promise you that we will do our best to resume normal operations as soon as possible. We are working to have patients with immediate needs referred to other dentists and will keep you informed of any additional developments. On behalf of all of us at River Bluff Dental, thank you for your support.

    Sincerely, Walter J. Palmer, DDS River Bluff Dental"


Wednesday, Safari Club International announced it had suspended Palmer and his guide pending an investigation into Cecil's killing.

"Safari Club International condemns unlawful and unethical hunting practices," the group said in a statement. "SCI supports only legal hunting practices and those who comply with all applicable hunting rules and regulations, and SCI believes that those who intentionally take wildlife illegally should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent allowed by law."



The Facebook page for Palmer's dentistry office was taken offline on Tuesday after being flooded with negative comments. The Yelp page for Palmer's office also received a heavy amount of negative reviews after news broke of his killing of the lion.

Palmer also released the following statement on Tuesday morning after criticism poured in over his killing of the lion.

    "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 favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. 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."


This photo shows the dental offices of Walter James Palmer in Bloomington, Minn., on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.


Jimmy Kimmel also criticized Palmer on his show on Tuesday night, calling the dentist's actions "vomitous."

Authorities in Zimbabwe say that Palmer is being sought on charges, but the dentist says that he hasn't been contacted by U.S. or Zimbabwean officials, according to the Associated Press.

Related Topics:
wild animalsanimal rightsconservationu.s. & worldanimalhuntingafrica

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