The hunter said to have lured a beloved lion named Cecil out of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, to be shot and killed as a trophy, has been identified by authorities as Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist.

The July 1 killing of a Cecil, a 13-year-old black-maned lion that held iconic stature in the wilderness preserve, sparked outrage as details began to leak about his death and how the lion was killed.

The lion was said to have been lured out of the park with an animal carcass tied to the bumper of a vehicle belonging to the hunting party, which was on private land outside of the park

Cecil was shot with a crossbow, then stalked for several hours and dispatched with a rifle.

Two arrests were made before Palmer was identified as the triggerman Tuesday, by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force and the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe.

Later Tuesday, Palmer issued a statement that reads: “I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.

Cecil had been wearing a GPS collar as part of a longstanding research program. It’s illegal to hunt collared animals, and the collar was illegally removed after the lion was skinned and beheaded.

According to source Palmer was once convicted of poaching a bear in Wisconsin. His dental office was closed Tuesday, so he could not be reached for further comment.

U.K. was first to name Palmer as Cecil’s killer, reporting that two independent sources, one of which reviewed the hunting permit, confirmed the identity.


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