Delta Airlines bans shipments of trophy animals

Delta Airlines bans shipments of trophy animals
© Bryan Orford

Delta Airlines is banning the shipment of trophy animals after the uproar surrounding the shooting of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. 

"Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight," the company said in a statement. 

"Prior to this ban, Delta's strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species," the statement continued. "Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments." 

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The decision follows the shooting of a popular lion in Zimbabwe named Cecil by Minnesota dentist Dr. Walter Palmer

Palmer attracted international outrage after Zimbabwean officials named him as the killer of the beloved lion. Palmer allegedly hired local guides to lure Cecil out of a national park where he shot and eventually beheaded him. 

Delta is one of the few U.S. airlines that offers flights directly to Africa. 

Other airlines such as British Airways, Air France, KLM, Singapore Airways, Lufthansa, Air Emirates, Iberia Airlines, IAG Cargo and Qantas have issued similar prohibition on trophy animal cargo, according to the website SumOfUS.org, which has petitioned for the bans. 

"The attraction for trophy hunters is being able to display the animal they butchered when they get home," the website says its petition

"If airlines stopped putting their profits above conservation by banning their transport, the bottom would drop out of the market," the petition continues. "Tell all global airways to immediately ban the transportation of dead endangered species on their planes."  

 Devin Henry contributed to this report.