Bloomington dentist continues to dodge protesters, media, extradition
Walter Palmer, the Twin Cities dentist who killed Zimbabwe’s much-loved lion Cecil, returned to his Bloomington clinic on Tuesday after Labor Day. Palmer was greeted by protesters and the media at his River Bluff Dental Clinic. He ended almost two months of silence after worldwide condemnation for killing the African lion.
Reaching Palmer for a sit-down interview has been a difficult task. At the peak of the protest, he was nowhere close to his practice. Bloomington police mounted security cameras there that remain in place to this day.
Two days before he resumed work, Palmer gave an extensive interview to the Associated Press (AP) and Star Tribune. He told reporters that he was not hiding but exercising caution because of concerns for his family. He added that he has been seeing friends and relatives.
His lawyer Joseph Friberg has told the MSR that he feels it was a big mistake to grant the AP and StarTribune interview. He said that he regretted allowing his client to do so.
“Everybody wants to talk to Walter Palmer. I’ve received more than 300 calls. It was not the best idea. It was a mistake to allow him to talk to the media,” said Frieberg, who is consulting on a pro bono basis for Palmer.
“My mother has no dumb son. I don’t allow my clients to talk to the media. Palmer won’t talk to any media for now,” Frieberg said.
Palmer’s trouble with the law started in July with what has been described as a “poaching expedition” by the Zimbabwean authorities, demanding his extradition to stand trial in there for killing the lion. His critics say he was not on a Safari trip but landed in Zimbabwe for few days to poach Cecil. Palmer denied the charges during the interview and told reporters that he wants to continue his practice and at the same time put his personal life together.
Palmer, 55, has been condemned worldwide for his action. Under pressure, he disappeared from his dental clinic for several weeks. Until now, the Bloomington dentist hasn’t be charged with any crime by U.S. authorities, Freiberg said.
Palmer was identified about seven weeks ago by Sky TV in London and other British news outlets as the Minnesota hunter who killed Cecil. On July 1, Palmer, according to numerous sources, used a compound bow to fatally injure the lion, and then returned in the morning about 40 hours later, for the final kill.
“I don’t understand how anybody thinks that’s a sport,” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton told the media when news broke in the Twin Cities. “I just think it is horrible.”
Since the incident there has been a stream of protests and commentaries against African trophy gaming. Some airline companies recently announced that they would no longer transport game trophies.
Meanwhile, the animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Palmer should be “hanged.” In a statement released before going into hiding, Palmer said the hunt was legal and he was unaware that the 13-year-old black mane lion was Cecil.
According to Zimbabwean authorities, Palmer paid about $55,000 through intermediaries to game hunt in the country in a guided hunt near Hwange National Park. In July, authorities from Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Palmer and his two partners lured Cecil out of the National park.
Authorities alleged that Palmer and his partners lured the lion to a neighboring farm by throwing animal carcasses along its path. Reportedly, the lion was then blinded by high-beam hunting lights.
Palmer’s critics continue to demand his extradition to Zimbabwe to stand trial. The U.S. government and Zimbabwe have an extradition agreement dating years back. Now, protesters and the Zimbabwe government want the U.S. to honor it by sending Palmer to Africa for any wrongdoing related to his hunt.
Since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) reportedly interviewed Palmer, the agency hasn’t announced any report of its findings to the public. In Zimbabwe, across the Atlantic Ocean, Theo Bronkhorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu have been tried for their roles leading to the lion’s death.
Palmer hasn’t helped his case, either. He returned to his dental practice on Tuesday after Labor Day where he spoke publicly for the first time since killing the lion. His critics were not impressed. They insist that Palmer only gave excuses and offered very little apology to the public and the people of Zimbabwe. He reportedly was involved in a similar incident in Wisconsin where he killed a bear, manipulated the evidence, and “economized the truth.”
Bloomington Police Chief Mike Hartley said they will keep an eye on the case and River Bluff Dental. After closing for almost four weeks, River Bluff opened on September 7 without Palmer. He kept a low profile as British and American media outlets continued to cover his story.
Issa A. Mansaray welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.