UPDATE 2-US dentist who killed Zimbabwean lion Cecil returns to work – Reuters


(Adds quotes from demonstrators, statement from police,
background)

By Todd Melby

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Sept 8 (Reuters) – The Minnesota dentist
who killed Zimbabwean lion Cecil, sparking a global outcry from
animal lovers, returned to work on Tuesday at his suburban
Minneapolis office to shouts of “murderer” and “leave town” from
a half dozen protesters.

Walter Palmer, 55, did not speak to reporters as he entered
his Bloomington, Minnesota, dental practice. He shut the
practice in late July amid a firestorm of protests after he was
publicly identified as the hunter who killed the rare
black-maned lion weeks before.

The River Bluff Dental practice reopened in mid-August
without Palmer, who said on Sunday in a joint interview with the
Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Press that he needed
to resume his duties.

In the interview, Palmer reiterated a statement he had made
in July: that the hunt was legal and no one in the hunting party
realized the targeted trophy kill was the well-known 13-year-old
lion. No charges have been filed against Palmer.

Palmer said in the interview he wounded the lion with a bow
and arrow, tracked it and then delivered a final blow with
another arrow over the course of far less than the 40 hours that
has been widely reported by media.

The killing of Cecil triggered a storm of protests and
threats on social media. Vandals spray-painted “lion killer” at
Palmer’s Florida vacation home and demonstrators built a small
memorial of stuffed animals at the door of his practice and
demanded he be charged and extradited.

Veronique Lamb, a 49-year-old tourist from Brussels, was
among the protesters waiting for Palmer on Tuesday. She said she
was there to protest the dentist returning to work “like nothing
happened.”

“He did something really bad and he really knows it,” Lamb
said. “Hopefully this has opened the eyes of people to this
horrible business. It’s very sad.”

Zimbabwe said in July it had requested Palmer’s extradition
as a “foreign poacher.” Palmer would have to be charged in
Zimbabwe before he could be extradited. The U.S. Justice
Department has said it does not comment on extradition requests.

Regulated big-game hunting is permitted in Zimbabwe and a
string of other African countries.

‘NOT ACCEPTED ANY MORE’

Cathy Pierce, 63, of East Bethel, Minnesota, said she would
like to see Palmer lose his business. “Maybe that would send a
message that this kind of hunting is not accepted anymore,”
Pierce said.

Stephanie Michaelis, who lives across the street from the
office, said she was skeptical of the protests. “What do we have
to do with lions in Africa? They don’t affect our lives,”
Michaelis said.

Several messages were taped to the entry door to the
building where the practice is located, including “From now on,
donate your money to endangered animals instead. Apparently you
have plenty” and “Justice for Cecil #extradition.”

A professional hunter in Zimbabwe was charged with breaching
hunting rules in connection with the hunt in which Cecil was
killed. He has denied any wrongdoing. A game park owner also was
charged.

Bloomington Police were at Palmer’s office on Tuesday and
have a security camera in the parking lot, Deputy Chief Mike
Hartley said. The department has not received any reports of
threats to Palmer’s life, he said.

(Reporting by Todd Melby; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by
Paul Simao and Frances Kerry)

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