BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – A group of protesters outside the office of a suburban Minneapolis dentist who killed a protected lion in Zimbabwe has grown to a couple of hundred people.
Demonstrators carried signs Wednesday and chanted outside the Bloomington office of Walter Palmer.
Palmer has said he believed the hunt was legal and didn’t know about the lion’s status. Some of Palmer’s patients are among the protesters.
Signs read “Killer” and “I am Cecil” – the name of the slain lion. Members of the crowd chanted, “Justice for Cecil.”
Signs also were taped on Palmer’s office door, including “ROT IN HELL” and “PALMER There’s a deep cavity waiting for you!”
Police are on the scene but are allowing the peaceful protest to continue.
Palmer, who lives in Eden Prairie, sent a letter to his patients on Wednesday, apologizing for the disruption.
Here’s the full letter:
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.
Walter J. Palmer, DDS
River Bluff Dental
Palmer’s public statement that hit many similar points as his letter to patients is doing little to stem the tide of anger that was unleashed against him on social media. Hundreds posted scathing comments and a hashtag #CecilTheLion exploded with rants from celebrities and citizens from across the globe.
Palmer maintains, through a released statement, that he is willing to help authorities but has not yet been contacted about the situation.
Meanwhile, A Zimbabwean judge has granted bail to the professional hunter arrested for helping an American tourist illegally kill a protected lion.
Defense lawyer Givemore Muvhiringi said Wednesday that professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst was released on $1,000 bail.
The lawyer representing farm owner Honest Trymore Ndlovu, who also appeared in court, said his client was not yet charged and was released from custody.
The two Zimbabweans allegedly helped Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer lure and kill a protected lion named Cecil.
Zimbabwean prosecutors’ documents accuse Bronkhorst of failing to “prevent an unlawful hunt.” Court documents say Bronkhorst was supervising while his client, Palmer, shot the animal.
The court documents made no mention of Palmer as a suspect.
The two appeared at the Hwange magistrate’s court, about 435 miles west of the capital Harare.
Contributing: Associated Press