The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service director told BBC news that they will “go where facts lead,” but have been unsuccessful in reaching Palmer. Animal lovers across the world have expressed outrage about Cecil’s death. A White House petition seeking Palmer’s extradition reached the threshold number of signatures needed for a response on Thursday, just in time for Zimbabwe’s request that he be extradited.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Is Investigating Palmer’s Illegal Hunt
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posted on Twitter that it shared everyone’s concerns about what happened to Cecil and were gathering facts and starting to launch an investigation, USA Today reported. Zimbabwe prosecutors have also said they are seeking out Palmer, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, Safari Club International suspended Palmer’s license and is launching an investigation of its own. Safari Club International stated:
…those who intentionally take wildlife illegally should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent allowed by law.
Cecil the Lion was killed after he was lured away from the safety of Hwange park in Zimbabwe. A professional hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, lured him away and Palmer shot Cecil with a crossbow. Palmer paid $50,000 for the hunt. It was about 40 hours later when Cecil was actually killed with a gun. Cecil wore a GPS collar from an Oxford University research project. It was this collar that alerted authorities that Cecil was killed on land that did not have a legal quota for hunting and killing lions.
2. Zimbabwe is Seeking Palmer’s Extradition
The Zimbabwe Wildlife Minister has announced that they are seeking Palmer’s extradition from the United States for financing the illegal hunt, ITV reported.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, as of Thursday, had not been able to reach Palmer despite multiple attempts and issued a statement on Twitter asking him to contact the agency. Palmer issued a statement earlier in the week that he thought the killing was legal and deeply regretted what happened. After the statement, he shut down his dental practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Star Tribune reported that it was able to reach Palmer on Wednesday, but he would not give out a comment, and it was not able to reach him at all on Thursday.
3. A White House Petition Has Reached the Threshold for a Response
The White House has said it would review a petition to extradite Palmer once the petition reached more than 100,00 signatures, BBC News reported. However, a White House spokesman said the ultimate decision would be up to the justice department. The petition reached more than 160,000 signatures by Thursday evening, July 30, nearly a month before the petition’s deadline. The petition requested that Walter Palmer be extradited at Zimbabwe’s request:
We urge the Secretary of State John Kerry and the Attorney General Loretta Lynch to fully cooperate with the Zimbabwe authorities and to extradite Walter Palmer promptly at the Zimbabwe government’s request…
Although the U.S. has an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe, the treaty is most often used for drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism, the Star Tribune reported.
4. Protesters and Celebrities Are Expressing Outrage
Demonstrators set up outside Palmer’s dental practice to express their outrage and disgust. They taped signs on his office door including “ROT IN HELL,” USA Today reported. They also left plush lion, tiger, and monkey toys at the practice doors, Yahoo! News reported. Celebrities joined the outrage, including Sharon Osborne, who took to Twitter to say: “#WalterPalmer is Satan.” Jimmy Kimmel referred to Palmer as the most-hated man in America, and urged those who were angry to donate their money to the conservation program that studied Cecil, called Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
5. Two Men Involved in the Hunt Are Facing Charges in Zimbabwe
Theo Bronkhorst, the hunter who lured Cecil the Lion away from Hwange park, and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, the landowner of the land where Cecil was killed, are facing criminal charges in Zimbabwe. Bronkhorst has already been charged and Ndlovu could be charged next week, the Star Tribune reported. Although it was expected that they would be charged with poaching, which could lead to 10 to 15 years in jail, Bronkhorst was charged with failing to prevent Cecil’s killing, the Star Tribune reported. The president of Zimbabwe’s Safari Operators Association, Emmanuel Fundira, told the Star Tribune that he believed bribery was involved in the hunt because all the documents used were obtained illegally. He said he believed it was very likely that Zimbabwe authorities would charge Palmer too.