Cecil the Lion Killer Breaks Silence: ‘I Wouldn’t Have Taken It’ If I Knew Lion Was Important

“I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all,” Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer says about threats against his family

YouTube/ Bryan Orford

The Minnesota dentist who sparked an international firestorm after killing Zimbabwe’s beloved Cecil the Lion broke his silence in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, expressing both remorse and irritation.

Walter Palmer, who will return to work at his River Bluff dental practice this week, expressed remorse for killing such a beloved animal.

“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 insisted he acted legally and wasn’t aware Cecil was wearing a tracking device or that he was part of an Oxford University research project.

He also challenged people who’ve sent death threats to him and his family: “I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all.”

Palmer also disputed conservationists who have claimed Cecil wandered for 40 hours after initially being shot by a gun, before he was later killed with an arrow.

Palmer refused to answer certain questions or have the interview videotaped, according to the Associated Press.

He faces the threat of extradition from several high-level Zimbabwean officials. No official steps have been taken yet in that process.

Cecil the Lion’s death set off an international media outcry in July, with the majority of commenters pointing figurative arrows at Palmer.