On Friday, environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said Zimbabwe would seek extradition for Walter Palmer for his role in killing Cecil the lion earlier in July. Muchinguri called the 55-year-old American dentist a "foreign poacher" and said, "We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal action." The Minnesota dentist sparked worldwide vitriol after admitting earlier this week he had killed the beloved animal.
Zimbabwean officials claim Palmer paid two local guides $55,000, and together, they allegedly lured Cecil, a tourist favorite and part of an Oxford University study, out of his protected habitat in Hwange National Park with bait. Authorities said Cecil was first shot with a bow and arrow and tracked for 40 hours before eventually being fatally shot. The 13-year-old lion's body was discovered decapitated and skinned. His protective GPS collar was found destroyed. Palmer, a big game hunter, is believed to have returned stateside, though he has since gone underground due to the heavy scrutiny. Palmer claims he believed the hunt was legal and his guides had secured the appropriate permits for the hunt.
The United States and Zimbabwe share a treaty that allows for the two countries to honor extradition requests. The White House on Thursday said it would consider a petition calling for Palmer's extradition. The petition, which requires 100,000 signatures, reached 146,000 names by Thursday evening.
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