The World's Most Wanted Man? Outrage After Dentist Slaughters Protected Lion Cecil

Dr. Walter James Palmer has come forward to say he didn't realize that killing Cecil the lion was a local favorite to Zimbabwe.

An American dentist is a wanted man after he hunted down and slaughtered Cecil, a beloved protected lion in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Walter James Palmer, 55, is said to be hiding out in Minneapolis where he has - or had - a thriving dental practice.

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Zimbabwe police want him back in Africa to stand trial for the killing. He and his two guides could face 15 years behind bars. But that, according to PETA, isn’t punishment enough, they angrily tweeted:

Social media is exploding with outrage. Victoria's Secret Angel Candice Swanepol posted on Instagram:

Comedian Ricky Gervais, an animal rights activist, tweeted:

Jimmy Kimmel nearly broke down on his show last night, posting a website where animal lovers can donate money to help protect wild animals.

The scene outside Dr. Palmer's office, which has been closed since news of Cecil's killing, has stuffed animals in front of the door.

In a statement to the Minneapolis Star Tribune he said: “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.

"Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”

On his website, which has been pulled down, Palmer calls himself a “specialist with a bow and arrow” and claims he can hit a playing card from 100 yards. He has 43 big game kills.

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Dr. Palmer paid $55,000 for a permit to hunt Cecil, who lived at a protected national park in Zimbabwe. 

He was accompanied by two guides and reportedly lured Cecil out of the national park by placing a fresh carcass of another animal on his Jeep.

Palmer wounded the 13-year-old jungle king with a bow and arrow, and then stalked him for 40 hours before shooting him to death. He cut off his head as a trophy.

Cecil was the leader of his pride. Park rangers fear that cubs may now be killed by Jericho, his rival in the pride.

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