Zimbabwe will not charge Cecil the lion's killer

Zimbabwe will not charge Cecil the lion's killer
© Bryan Orford

Zimbabwean officials will not charge the Minnesota man who killed a famed lion there this summer because he had the proper legal authority to do so.

A cabinet minister told reporters Monday that Walter Palmer had the permits necessary for the hunt that ended in Cecil the lion’s death.

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"We approached the police and then the Prosecutor General, and it turned out that Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order," Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said, according to Reuters.

A spokesman for Palmer, a Twin Cities dentist, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Monday that he wouldn’t comment on the decision.

Palmer has long said he did nothing wrong when he killed Cecil on a hunt this summer.

Even so, Zimbabwe authorities investigated the incident and eventually filed criminal charges against his guide and the owner of the land where Cecil died. Palmer, however, will not be charged.

Cecil was a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, though Palmer has said he didn’t know about the animal’s fame when he took it down with a bow and arrow this year.

The killing garnered worldwide condemnation, much of it directed at Palmer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in July that it was investigating the killing, and the Obama administration used the killing to promote its anti-wildlife-trafficking work. 

The incident also kicked off a congressional push to ban importing lion trophies to the U.S. as a way to remove an incentive for poachers. In a September interview with Twin Cities media, Palmer wouldn’t go into detail about the hunt or say what became of Cecil’s remains.