Millions of viewers saw Jimmy Kimmel get emotional over the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, and thousands of them took action at his urging.
On Tuesday night, the late-night host delivered an uncharacteristically serious account of how the country’s most famous lion was killed, which involved American dentist Walter Palmer paying two local guides $50,000 to track and shoot the beloved animal.
Cecil’s death has since sparked outrage, especially as he was part of a study being conducted by Oxford University and was wearing a GPS tracking collar, which helped authorities determine who the guides were, and eventually led them to Palmer.
After the moving segment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that concluded with the host urging his audience to donate to the research group that was tracking Cecil with the GPS collar, Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Unit reported that more than 2,600 people donated money, totaling more than $150,000, a representative for the ABC show confirmed to TheWrap.
After comparing Palmer to Bill Cosby and calling him “the most hated man in America who never advertised Jell-O pudding on television,” Kimmel told viewers who they can help.
“If you want to make this into a positive, you can,” he said, before choking up. “Make a donation. Support them. At the very least maybe we can show the world that not all Americans are like this jackhole.”
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit director David McDonald thanked the late-night host for his help, writing on the charity’s website Wednesday: “Jimmy Kimmel implored his millions of listeners in the USA to make donations to support our work on lions, and conservation more widely. We are so grateful for this and for the up-welling of support for our work worldwide.
“People are telling us that they are copying our appeal to all their mailing lists and contacts — this is wonderful — thank you: for an organisation that depends on philanthropy we are deeply grateful for this support — it will be a wonderful monument to Cecil the Lion if we are empowered by these donation to continue and to increase our conservation work. The email deluge is overwhelming us, so we cannot reply individually, but we thank you sincerely.”
Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has since called forthe death of Palmer, saying “he needs to be extradited, charged, and, preferably, hanged.”
The killing of the 13-year-old lion, who was famed for his lush black-tinged mane, quickly sparked outrage across world from animal lovers and a flood of Hollywood stars including Ricky Gervais, Olivia Wilde, Sharon Osbourne and Jane Goodall.
See video of Kimmel’s segment below.