American Dentist Paid $55K to Lure, Kill Lion: Report
Walter Palmer identified as hunter who killed Zimbabwe's Cecil
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2015 10:19 AM CDT
Cecil the lion.   (YouTube/CNN)

(Newser) – The search for the hunter who killed Cecil, Zimbabwe's most famous lion, may be over. The Telegraph says two sources IDed the man as Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, and the Independent says the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force has confirmed that. Palmer, who's believed to have paid up to $55,000 to kill Cecil with a bow and arrow, is a well-known hunter who's been featured in the New York Times (which noted he learned to shoot at age 5) and on at least one hunting blog that shows him holding up various big game he's killed, including a 175-pound leopard and a California bighorn sheep. The Independent notes that the bio on Palmer's dental practice's website, which is currently down, lists him as enjoying "outdoor activities" and that "anything allowing him to stay active and observe and photograph wildlife is where you will find Dr. Palmer when he [is] not in the office."

Palmer has also racked up legal troubles involving his hunting hobby, per the 2009 Times article: He pleaded guilty in 2008 to making a false statement to the feds about the site where he killed a black bear during a guided hunt. And while shooting and killing lions with a bow and arrow is legal in Zimbabwe (though not in a national park), the professional hunter who guided Palmer and the owner of the private land where Cecil was killed "had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt," a statement from the Zimbabwe national parks authority reads, per the Telegraph. The ZCTF chairman tells the Independent that those convicted in the illegal hunt could face 10 years in prison and that the lion's "head—[Palmer's] trophy—has been impounded and confiscated as evidence for the court." (A Texas vet got off after she killed a cat with a bow and arrow.)