The Minnesota dentist breaks his nearly six-week silence on the hunt that outraged the world.
Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who shot the popular lion “Cecil” in Zimbabwe, has broken a long silence and reveals he plans to return to work.
The hunt for the radio-collared lion was declared illegal by Zimbabwean officials, and now Palmer is trying to regain control of his life after the story sparked global outrage. He plans to return to work this Tuesday.
“I have a lot of staff members, and I’m a little heartbroken at the disruption in their lives,” Palmer told reporters from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Associated Press. “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.”
Palmer’s office was closed for weeks and acted as Ground Zero for many protests over Cecil’s death. Even though the office re-opened, it was without Palmer. It was rumored he has been in hiding, a notion Palmer quickly shot down.
“I’ve been out of the public eye seeing family and friends,” Palmer said, although the report says he did admit keeping his profile low because of “some safety issues for his family.” Palmer did go into some detail on that.
“This has been especially hard on my wife and daughter,” Palmer told reporters. “They’ve been threatened in the social media, and again…I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all.”
Palmer reportedly stood by his original statement in late July about the hunt. “Everything was done properly,” he told reporters.
Palmer was joined in the interview with reporters by attorney Joe Friedberg, who says he is acting only as a consultant to Palmer. Friedberg said Palmer did not need an attorney legal claims are made.
Both assert Palmer was relying on his guides and that the hunt was done legally.
“Everything was done properly,” he said. “This was a legal hunt for a lion in Zimbabwe. And because of the professionalism of the people who had to help him, a lion was taken.”
The reporters made inquiries into whether Palmer would return to Zimbabwe to face legal allegations of the hunt. He refused to answer.
Palmer did slam claims of the length of time it took for the recovery of the lion. He was not specific on the timeline, only stating it was less than the 40 hours popularly reported in the media.
He also shot down claims he had paid upwards of $55,000 for the hunt, stating only that such reports were incorrect.
Although he was mum on the details of the hunt, he did again express regret as to what happened.
“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,” Palmer said. “Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”
Police in Bloomington, Minnesota, where Palmer’s dental practice is located, are aware of Palmer’s return.
While they are not dedicating personnel to being on scene, it seems they will be keeping an eye on it. “We still have a security camera out in the lot there,” Deputy Chief Mike Hartley told the Star Tribune. “We knew eventually, he was going to return.”
As to what will happen when Palmer returns to work is anyone’s guess, but it is not likely we’ve heard the last on this story.