Walter Palmer, the man who ignited international outrage in July he killed the revered 13-year-old lion Cecil during an illegal hunt in Zimbabwe, has finally broken his silence.
Ever since the controversy erupted, the Minneapolis dentist – who hasn't been charged with a crime – has kept a low public profile. However, he addressed the scandal in an evening interview conducted jointly by the Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which will reportedly be the only one granted.
Palmer reiterated previous claims about his hunt being legal, adding he was shocked to find out the lion he had killed was a widely revered lion in Zimbabwe's Hwange national park.
"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."
Palmer admitted he shot the lion using an arrow from his compound bow outside the park's borders, however, he disputed claims that the wounded lion wandered for 40 hours and was finished off with a gun by his team.
Addressing the backlash on social media, with some posts even calling for violence against him, Palmer said he was worried for his wife and adult daughter, adding he was “heartbroken” for his clinic staff who had to cease operations for about a month.
“I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all,” he stated.
But the outrage will not keep Palmer from continuing with his work.
“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,” Palmer said. “I’ve been among people, family and friends. Location is really not that important.”