Dentist Walter Palmer Returns to Work With Police Escort Amid Cecil the Lion Protests

Dentist Walter Palmer returned to work this morning after a six-week absence that followed global criticism for killing a beloved lion.

Palmer returned to his dental clinic in Bloomington, Minnesota, with a police escort at around 7 a.m. today.

A few protesters gathered outside his office and yelled “Extradite Palmer,” saying he should face punishment in Zimbabwe.

In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit/AP Photo
In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe.
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit/AP Photo

The dentist was named in late July as the hunter who killed Cecil, a lion that had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of research for Oxford University. Palmer has said he did not know he was killing a beloved animal when he followed his hunting party guide, and he believed he acted legally. The 13-year-old Cecil was the biggest dominant male black-maned lion in Hwange National Park in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

Today, Bloomington Police Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said police will keep a presence at Palmer’s office for as long as they are needed, mostly to manage blocking off the street for media. There were about 10 officers on the premises this morning. Hartley said he is not concerned for Palmer’s safety at this point, and Palmer has employed his own security.

Zimbabwean authorities have reportedly paused an effort to extradite Palmer due to possible fears that doing so would hurt Zimbabwe’s hunting business, the Associated Press reported. The Zimbabwean professional hunter who helped Palmer was charged with “failure to prevent an illegal hunt,” while the man whose property on which the killing took place faces a charge of allowing the hunt to occur on his farm without proper authority. They allegedly lured the lion out of the national park with an animal carcass.

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