My Facebook feed has been an endless stream of diatribes against Dr. Walter J. Palmer, DDS, the American dentist who paid over $50,000 to murder a lion lured out of a wildlife sanctuary. With the help of some guides, Palmer shot Cecil, a human-friendly animal, with a crossbow and then “hunted” him for the next 40+ hours as the animal slowly died from the arrow fired into his majestic body by the rich white man from another continent.
I’d personally like to thank Dr. Palmer. Not because he killed a world-famous lion and forced it to spend the last two days of its life in tortuous pain. I’m as shattered by that as the myriad people on my Facebook timeline. Rather, I’d like to thank him because now millions upon millions of people across the globe are now outraged by the “sport” of trophy hunting, even of endangered animals. It’s especially important here in America because, according to data from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the largest importer of African lion parts for trophies and other uses is the United States of America. In fact, between 1999 and 2008, we had 64% of the international market for lion parts.
Let’s not forget, Cecil wasn’t the first wild African creature this wealthy American dentist has killed.
We should be angered at Dr. Palmer. But no more so than any other American who flies over to Africa, pays exhorbitant amounts of money to locals to make him or herself feel superior, mighty, and powerful by slaying a wild animal that has virtually no chance of winning the fight.
We should be heartbroken and outraged at the slaughtering of a lion that was well-known and beloved. But no more so than any other animal that is slaughtered to hang on someone’s wall or to grace their floor for people to walk on.
With his cowardly, gutless, and pathetic act of killing Cecil, Dr. Palmer has ignited a debate we should have been having decades, maybe even centuries ago, a debate that should include a discussion of our role on this planet as stewards and caretakers vs. murderers and butchers.
So, thanks, Dr. Palmer. While I’m happy that your business is ruined, your reputation is destroyed, and you don’t dare appear in public, I’d like to thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront. While I wish another wild and increasingly rare creature didn’t have to suffer and die due to your cowardly act, at least now we’re all talking about it. We can only hope the end of YOUR life is as unpleasant and filled with pain and terror as the animal you destroyed.
[CC image credit: Curious Exepeditions | Flickr]