The US dentist who sparked an international outrage after killing a lion in Zimbabwe has said he did nothing wrong and is planning to return to work this week.
Cecil the Lion, Walter Palmer
US dentist who killed Cecil the lion, Walter Palmer, has made a bombshell revelation on Sunday, as he spoke out to insist Cecil did not lie dying for 40 hours.
In his first interview since the international furore, Palmer also expressed agitation at the way he and his loved ones had been treated after the slaying of Zimbabwe's most beloved animal, saying he believes he acted legally, and that he was stunned to find out his hunting party had killed such a treasured lion.
Palmer told The Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a joint interview on Sunday evening.
"I have a lot of staff members, and I’m a little heartbroken at the disruption in their lives. And I’m a health professional. I need to get back to my staff and my patients, and they want me back. That’s why I’m back.
"If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study, obviously I wouldn't have taken it. Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after, the name of this lion."
Palmer has been vilified across social media, with some posts suggesting violence against him. He described himself as 'heartbroken' for causing disruptions for staff at his clinic, which was shuttered for weeks until reopening in late August without him on the premises. And he said the ordeal has been especially hard on his wife and adult daughter, who both felt threatened.
"I don't understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all. My staff and my patients support me and they want me back. I've been out of the public eye. That doesn't mean I'm in hiding. I've been among people, family and friends. Location is really not that important."
Asked whether he would return to Zimbabwe for future hunts, Palmer said, "I don't know about the future. Zimbabwe has been a wonderful country for me to hunt in, I've been there four times and I have always followed the laws."
He admitted that he wounded the lion with an arrow but denied that it had subsequently taken 40 hours to track down and kill it. He also denied claims by the Zimbabwean authorities that it had been killed by a gun, saying that an arrow had been used. He is believed to have paid $50,000 (£32,000) to hunt the lion in Zimbabwe's largest game reserve.