Cecil the Lion: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Cecil the lion, walter palmer

Walter Palmer is accused of killing “Cecil the lion” in Zimbabwe. Cecil was found headless and skinless on the outskirts of the park. (YouTube)

Cecil the Lion was beloved by residents of and visitors to Zimbabwe during his 13 years living at the Hwange national park. The majestic lion whose dark mane was frequently photographed by visitors was hunted down and killed by a Minnesota dentist who paid $50,000 to professional hunters.

Dr. Walter Palmer, 55, is facing international outrage after it was revealed Tuesday that he was the one who killed Cecil in early July.

Cecil was found in early July, beheaded and skinned, on the outskirts of the national park.

His death has led to a suspension of lion hunting outside the national park. An investigation into other lion deaths revealed that an American doctor also participated in what has been deemed an illegal hunt in Zimbabwe. Read about that hunter, Dr. Jan Seski, here.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. He Was Collared for a Research Project & ‘Never Bothered Anybody’

Cecil the Lion was a treasured member of the Hwange national park and possibly its largest lion.

“He never bothered anybody,” Johnny Rodrigues, of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told The Telegraph about Cecil. “He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at.”

The 13-year-old lion was collared as part of an Oxford University program.

Cecil the Lion: The Pictures You Need to See

Cecil the Lion was killed illegally by Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minneapolis. These are the pictures you need to see of the beloved lion of Hwange park.

Click here to read more

2. His 6 Cubs Will Likely Be Killed by Another Lion Because of His Death

Officials are now concerned about Cecil’s six cubs, because they will likely be killed by another lion.

“The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho, will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females,” the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said.

“That’s how it works… it’s in the wild; it’s nature taking its course,” the head of the task force, Johnny Rodrigues, told the BBC.

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3. His Death Has Been Mourned by Thousands on Social Media

Cecil the Lion

A tribute to Cecil the Lion. (

Thousands of people, including many celebrities and animal activists, have mourned the death of Cecil the Lion on social media, with #CecilTheLion trending on Twitter throughout the day Tuesday.

Also, 800,000 people have signed a petition calling for justice for Cecil.

Palmer took down his dental practice’s website and social media pages, while thousands of negative comments have been posted to Yelp about it.

The charity Lion Aid said, “Cecil was not the first male lion enticed out of the park to be shot by trophy hunters. In fact, the research programme indicates that over the years, 74% of the male lions on the border of the National Park have been shot by hunters.”

4. Two Men Have Been Criminally Charged in the Case

Theo Bronkhorst, Walter palmer, zane bronkhorst

A photo from the Bushman Safaris’ Facebook page. The company’s founder, Theo Bronkhorst, is facing charges. (Facebook)

Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and the land owner where Cecil was killed, Honest Trymore Ndlovu, have been charged criminally in Zimbabwe. Police say they are also looking for Bronkhorst’s son, Zane, and Walter Palmer.

While it is not illegal to hunt lions, even when they are collared, or to lure them off the national park land, authorities say they didn’t have the requirements to hunt Cecil.

“Ongoing investigations to date, suggest that the killing of the lion was illegal since the land owner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015,” the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement.

The charity Lion Aid explains that it is legal to bait lions in Zimbabwe, to shoot them with a bow and arrow from a blind, to kill them outside a national park in a private hunting area and to kill collared lions.

“But Cecil was shot in an area not assigned a lion quota. Supposedly the bait was set for a leopard and then Cecil came along. The professional hunter, Theo Bronkhorst told his client to shoot the lion, and then the hunt became illegal,” Lion Aid says. “The professional hunter then allegedly attempted to destroy the radiocollar to hide the evidence. Allegedly the client was “furious” when he found that the lion was radiocollared. Allegedly, when a professional hunter engages a client in an area without lion quota, the lion will be listed as hunted in an area that does have quota. This could have been standard practice, but unfortunately Cecil was a well-known lion.”

Theo Bronkhorst: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter and owner of the Zimbabwe-based Bushman Safaris, is facing criminal charges in the hunt and death of Cecil the lion.

Click here to read more

5. Walter Palmer Says He Didnt Know He Killed a ‘Local Favorite’

Walter Palmer, Minnesota dentist hunter, walter palmer dentist, walter palmer minnesota

Walter Palmer, left, is pictured with a dead lion in 2008. He’s under fire for the recent slaying of a beloved lion called Cecil. (Trophy Hunt America)

Palmer, of Eden Prairie, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he plans to dispute some of what is being said later Tuesday.

“Obviously, some things are being misreported,” he said.

Palmer later issued a statement about the hunt, according to KSTP-TV:

In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.

I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.

Dr. Jan Seski: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jan Seski, a doctor and bow hunter from Pennsylvania, is suspected in the killing of another lion near the Hwange national park in Zimbabwe.

Click here to read more

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  1. This guy is a Moran he shouldn’t be in our society. That is cruel and he should get out of America how would he like to be shot and killed that way.

  2. Oh my God! I cannot look at these horrible photos. It is incomprehensible to me that this could happen in 2015. It offends me at so many levels that I cannot process this. Pure evil and so so sad.

  3. Dr. Palmer states he has hunted for years, has always done so legally, and he relied on his professional guides to conduct a legal hunt. He apologized for killing a lion that was loved by the public and collared as part of a study. He did not apologize for hunting big game. He is not the only one to blame for this tragedy. He, and others like him, are only part of the problem. WHY is hunting lions in this area legal? Why isn’t it banned completely? I’m sure the $$ paid by big game hunters is a huge incentive to the guides, and many others in the country that benefit from this practice. Until the monetary incentive is removed, and the mindset of the citizens of this area is changed, we will continue to see big game animals hunted down for sport, even as their habitat is disappearing and their numbers are shrinking. Zimbabwe must make the changes needed to stop this so-called sport..

  4. We all know from looking at e-mails that nobody from Africa has ever lied about a business deal. I’m sure these professional hunting guides that promised a trophy lion for $55,000 were as honest as anyone could be. I’d imagine $55,000 couldn’t have swayed there honest intentions at all. So he (the dentist) knew that he was going to end his own life as he knew it, along with the beloved lion’s and did it anyway? I find that thought just a little odd. You ask why he (the dentist) is not walking down the street in public view? Because a lot of people have already tried and convicted him and formed a lynch mob. If he’s found guilty I’d wonder how he could have ever been smart enough to become a dentist. I’m just one of those silly people that wants some of those annoying facts before I pass judgement.

  5. Whether he knew or not, it’s still sickening to trophy hunt. What’s sad is to know that this has been happening for years and that 74% of male lions have been killed in this same way but it is just making national headlines now. I hope trophy hunting is made illegal everywhere.

    • Thrill killing (a/k/a “trophy hunting”) is premeditated murder that is motivated by the perpetrator’s unexplainable “pleasure” derived from the murderous act itself.

    • Killing such a fierce and beautiful creature doesn’t make you brave, if anything it makes you a coward.

  6. you guys are idiots. lionaid has already said it seems the hunter did nothing wrong. blame the guide company for not securing proper tags. which will only result in a fine. most zimbabwe’s dont even know this happened and dont care, just you foolish people who continue to eat burgers, chicken and turkey and wear leather shoes and jackets. there are many other hunters in the states that are gonna travel to africa to hunt in the same way Palmer did. 600 lions are hunted every year in africa legaly with permits. blame the country that allows this. not gonna end anytime soon. no one gonna go to jail.

  7. I agree partially with this article – but we cannot let it be played down either. What’s wrong with this is also the very thing which was wrong when Melissa Bachman posed with ‘her’ killed lion a couple of years ago. Most educated people instantly complained about ISIS (ISIL) destroying world heritage in Iraq, or the Taliban destroying the Buddhas of Bamiyan, in Afghanistan years ago. But here we have these American, pathetic posers standing proud next to ‘their’ (sic!) shot lion – obviously too stupid or too narcissistic to realize the outrage and frustration this would and should rise in millions of people who did some more long-term thinking about the earth and our future. People who do not like the idea that in the future, parents may have to show their kids a picture of a lion, telling them “this was how lions looked like”, while none of them are alive anymore. But, as these ‘professional hunters’ are Americans, they do of course consider themselves as being “on higher moral ground” than the Taliban or ISIS – even while in reality they are destroying something which in the future may never fully recover, and never be seen again by our children. They were hunting and killing an animal that is totally emblematic for a new respect for nature that millions and millions of people feel deep in their bones – yet these hunters are oozing an attitude of either NOT THINKING or being completely apathetic to anything but their own little pleasures.

    And THIS IS what makes so many of us so angry.

  8. Thrill killing (a/k/a “trophy hunting”) is premeditated murder that is motivated by the perpetrator’s unexplainable “pleasure” derived from the murderous act itself.

  9. you people are complete idiots the license and procedure is in place to harvest a certain number of lions and respect to maintaining a healthy eco structure. to continue these licenses are in place to make sure the local populations are protected and local game ite cattle goats excetera aren’t being harvested by lions for food this line was taken by mistake.the doctor admitted he was outraged when he found the radio collar. why do you people want to stick your nose into another countries issues when it’s none of your damn business.

  10. Dentist Palmer’s office has now re-opened: Riverbluff Dental / 10851Rhode Island Ave, S. Bloomington, Minnesota 55438 / 952-884-5361