People around the world are speaking out about the death of Cecil the Lion, who was shot and killed by an American hunter earlier this month.
Zimbabwe’s most famous lion was found skinned and decapitated outside a national park on the outskirts of Hwange after Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, reportedly paid $50,000 to shoot him with a crossbow and rifle.
The killing of the 13-year-old lion, who was famed for his lush black-tinged mane, quickly sparked outrage across Hollywood from famous animal lovers who condemned Palmer’s actions.
“Ohh the dentist ‘had no idea’ the lion was famous. Because had he known, he would never have murdered it without asking for a selfie first,” actress Olivia Wilde tweeted.
Meanwhile, “The Office” creator Ricky Gervais, who has become a vocal supporter for animal rights tweeted: “RIP #CecilTheLion. I’m struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this.”
“The Talk” co-host Sharon Osbourne went as far as to call Palmer “Satan,” and warned people not to seek his dental services. “He is a killer. Beware!”
Police in Zimbabwe have arrested two people over Cecil’s death, and Palmer is being sought by officials in connection with the case, according to CNN. He may also face poaching charges as it is believed that the lion was lured out of the national park into an adjacent hunting concession area with freshly killed bait.
Aside from his good looks, Cecil was a participant in a study that Oxford University in the U.K. was conducting, and he had been outfitted with a GPS collar.
In a statement released Tuesday and reported by CNN, Palmer claimed he hired professional guides who secured proper permits. “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted,” he said. “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.
“I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion,” he concluded, claiming that authorities in Zimbabwe and the U.S. had not yet contacted him but he would assist them in any inquiries.
Palmer’s dental practice was closed Tuesday, while its Facebook page and website have both been shut down after being flooded by furious commentators, prompting some users to turn to Yelp with one calling him an “American psycho incarnate.”
Read the angry tweets below and watch YouTube footage of Cecil.