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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who has sparked global fury after he hunted and killed the famous Cecil the Lion on a trip to Zimbabwe, is trying out a public relations tack: one half-apology for killing Cecil and one full-condemnation of the media and environmentalists for making a big stink of it.

In a statement given Wednesday to the local Fox station in the Twin Cities, Palmer says, in part:

I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion. That was never my intention. The media interest in this matter – along with a substantial number of comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general – has disrupted our business and our ability to see our patients. For that disruption, I apologize profoundly for this inconvenience and promise you that we will do our best to resume normal operations as soon as possible. We are working to have patients with immediate needs referred to other dentists and will keep you informed of any additional developments. On behalf of all of us at River Bluff Dental, thank you for your support.

Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to a pair of guides in Zimbabwe to help him lure Cecil out of the wildlife preserve before then killing the beloved animal. (And as a fun side note, it has also been reported that Palmer was a maxed-out donor to Mitt Romney in 2012.)

The people of Zimbabwe are understandably not very happy that a white man flew to their country for the purpose of killing an animal that had become the national mascot. But even in America, his actions have sparked a hearty round of public outrage, including protest signs and stuffed animal dolls being placed at his office.

But maybe Palmer really has an opportunity here to cultivate a political fanbase — among conservatives still nostalgic for colonialism and the Great White Hunter.

Photo via Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford.

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