Walter Palmer, Bloomington dentist, involved in controversial lion killing

When not taking care of teeth, Walter Palmer takes out big-game animals.

When not taking care of teeth, Walter Palmer takes out big-game animals.

Bloomington dentist Walter Palmer is at the center of an international controversy.

When he’s not brightening smiles, Walter Palmer goes on hunting safaris, paying big bucks to take out big game animals. Earlier this month, Palmer was in Zimbabwe for a high-priced lion hunt, the Daily Telegraph reports. The Minnesota man was accompanied by a professional hunter who founded Zimbabwe hunting outfit Bushman Safaris.

For the privilege of killing a lion for fun, Palmer reportedly paid around $55,000 — that’s a lot of X-rays for the proprietor of River Bluff Dental in Bloomington. But the “trophy” the group would bag happened to be the most famous animal in one of Zimbabwe’s national parks.

Cecil was a 13-year-old lion popular among visitors to the Hwange National Park. While permitted lion hunting is legal in Zimbabwe, it’s a no-no in national parks. According to reports, the hunters baited Cecil — who conservationists say was used to humans — roughly a half mile out of the park, where it was shot with a bow and arrow. The arrow didn’t kill Cecil, but 40 hours later the hunters caught up with the wounded beast and finished the job. Cecil was then beheaded and skinned, and his collar was removed.

The pro hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, told the Telegraph he was oblivious to Cecil’s fame, called the incident a “mistake” and said he reported it to authorities. Bronkhorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu — owner of the farm where Cecil was allegedly killed — are facing up to 15 years in prison, though it’s unclear if charges have been brought against Palmer.

Calls to Palmer’s office would not go through and River Bluff’s website was down Tuesday. However, Palmer, who lives in Eden Prairie, tells the Star Tribune “some things are being misreported.”

Photos on the blog Trophy Hunt America appear to show Palmer with other freshly slain animals, including an elk, a California Bighorn, and a Zimbabwe leopard. In 2008, Palmer pleaded guilty to lying to federal wildlife officials about where he killed a black bear during a Wisconsin hunt, the Associated Press reports. He was hit with a $3,000 fine and a year of probation.

Because it's 2015, outrage has exploded across the internet. A mock River Bluff Dental Facebook page emerged Tuesday and animal lovers flooded its legitimate Yelp page with negative comments. Yelp began deleting some of the posts, which range from penis disses to calling Palmer a "vile and disgusting" human. Others were more playful, though that's probably not much consolation when you're on the receiving end of a media firestorm.

Update: Kare 11 reporter Melissa Colorado posted the following statement from Palmer on her Facebook page.


We just received this statement from Dr. Walter Palmer, accused of killing Cecil, the lion. "In early July, I was in...