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For Eden Prairie dentist who admits to killing lion: a torrent of anger

Cecil the lion
Cecil the lion

It’s hard to imagine how an otherwise average guy could bring worse publicity down on himself: It’s a full, dog days pile-on in the story of Eden Prairie dentist, Walter Palmer. Says Matt DeLong in the Strib, “The Twin Cities were at the center of a major international story Tuesday after a dentist from Eden Prairie was named by conservationists as the hunter who illegally killed Cecil, a beloved lion who lived in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, with a bow and arrow on July 1. … Palmer is listed as a member of the trophy hunting organization Safari Club International. His profile on SCI’s website lists 43 kills, including caribou, moose, deer, buffalo, a polar bear and mountain lion.” A polar bear!?

For KMSP-TV Lindsey LaBelle’s story says, “The shades at Palmer’s dental practice were drawn on Tuesday. A dental staffer told Fox 9 it would likely be closed for the remainder of the week, and its website has been shut down.  Meanwhile, people from all over the country have taken to his practice’s Yelp page to compose nasty reviews and various hate messages.”

Jessica Miles of KSTP posts a photo of the front door of Palmer’s office plastered with a nasty sign … and piles of plush animal toys.

Bill Hudson of WCCO-TV reports, “Outside the dentist office, protester Christopher Flugge said, ‘Any hunter that is actually worth a damn will probably find it incredibly disrespectful and repulsive.’ … Social media sites are lighting up with nasty comments directed towards Palmer and his hunting party, many of which are too inflammatory to publish. The feelings of Jean Flugge were calm by comparison.”

In The Washington Post Caitlin Dewey says, “There is no Yelp quite like revenge Yelp — and revenge Yelp is out in full force today. It has found the business page for Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who shot a beloved African lion, and bombarded it with more than 1,500 one-star ratings. Palmer’s other online accounts weren’t spared either, of course: The Facebook page of River Bluff Dental, where Palmer works, also was flooded with thousands of outraged comments. A dormant YouTube account is plastered with all-caps insults and, more disconcertingly, Palmer’s personal address. At some point this afternoon, someone also managed to hijack River Bluff’s Web site and link it out to a fake Twitter page, where pranksters posted pictures of smiling lions — and induced further (in this case, misdirected) outrage.”

At Vice News, the story says, “According to National Geographic, 34 of the 62 lions tagged by the Oxford research project have died, 24 of them at the hands of sport hunters. Trophy hunting is a powerful industry in much of Africa, and Asian demand for lion bones has recently spiked. The bones are sometimes substituted for tiger bones in traditional remedies. A National Geographic article published earlier this year noted that ‘the bones are ground down, boiled, and mixed with other ingredients, such as goat bones, herbs — even opium — to make a ‘tiger bone’ cake that is believed to have medicinal properties.’ [Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force] believes that a culture of ‘greed and corruption’ in Zimbabwe could eliminate its lions within the next 10 to 15 years.”

Here, FYI, is a 2009 New York Times story, by Michael Brick, with Palmer as one of the subjects. “Last year, the first season since the establishment of the tule elk category, more than 500 hunters applied for a chance at the record book. California charges nonresidents $1,162.50 for the chance to take an elk, distributing tags through property owners and conservation groups. … As the 2009 season approached, Walter J. Palmer, a dentist in his late 40s from Eden Prairie, Minn., paid $45,000 for a tag at an auction to finance preservation of the elk habitat.

For City Pages Michael Rietmulder writes, “Photos on the blog Trophy Hunt America appear to show Palmer with other freshly slain animals, including an elk, a California Bighorn and a Zimbabwe leopard. … Because it’s 2015, outrage has exploded across the Internet. A mock River Bluff Dental Facebook page emerged Tuesday and animal lovers flooded its legitimate Yelp page with negative comments. Yelp began deleting some of the posts, which range from penis disses to calling Palmer a ‘vile and disgusting’ human. Others were more playful, though that’s probably not much consolation when you’re on the receiving end of a media firestorm.” The shot of him shirtless, a la Vladimir Putin, holding up the dead leopard is … uh … fresh meat for every amateur psychologist.

Steve Sack of the Strib wasted no time getting a cartoon up.

Elsewhere, outside the realm of blood sport, the NFL … oh, wait … wants to keep its Tom Brady problem out of Minnesota. Michael O’Keeffe of the New York Daily News writes, “The NFL, apparently eager to steer clear of Minnesota, filed papers in Manhattan federal court Tuesday seeking confirmation of commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his role in the Deflategate scandal. Brady is expected to file a lawsuit challenging his four-game suspension in Minnesota federal court, which has handed the league a string of legal defeats dating back to the 1970s. By filing its complaint against the Players Association with the Southern District of New York, the league hopes to have the case heard in New York and not the less-friendly court. ‘They are just venue shopping,’ said sports attorney Jay Reisinger, who has been involved in scores of arbitration hearings. ‘They want to keep it out of Minnesota.’”

Gentlemen, take note. Jeremy Olson of the Strib says, “State health officials are amplifying their recommendation that men who have sex with men get meningitis shots, after tests confirmed that a recent death in Minnesota is linked to a strain that circulated among gay communities in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Confirmation of a C serogroup strain in Minnesota, which has caused seven infections and one death among gay men in Chicago this summer, has increased the urgency for vaccination in a population that normally doesn’t receive it, officials said.”

Competitive bidding? What a concept! Kyle Potter of the AP says, “Minnesota booked nearly $650 million in savings by tweaking how it handles subsidized health care programs, state officials announced Tuesday. Health care costs were a major issue in the Legislature this year as GOP lawmakers sought drum up hundreds of millions in dollars in savings by weeding out fraud from the state’s public programs and dismantle the health care plan for the working poor altogether. Those plans didn’t pan out, but Minnesota saved almost $450 million by putting its contracts with health plans to cover more than 800,000 low-income residents through competitive bidding, Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said.” This of course is precisely why we must avoid a single-payer system with competitive bidding for drugs and such things.

A special session … for fish. MPR’s story, by Riham Feshir says, “The possibility of a shortened season on Minnesota’s premier walleye fishing lake may lead to a special session of the state Legislature. A statement from Gov. Mark Dayton’s office said the governor talked with top legislative leaders Tuesday about a special session in August to provide disaster relief to Mille Lacs resorts if the walleye season closes.Surveys in July on estimated walleye harvests showed the lake was within 3,000 pounds of reaching the annual limit set by the state. That was a dramatic change from June 30, when surveys estimated 15,300 pounds remained.” What are the chances Dr. Palmer’s been out fishing, too? 

Comments (39)

  1. Submitted by Greg Price on 07/29/2015 - 07:41 am.

    If the Dentist has the money…he can spend it…

    If the Dentist has the money…he can spend it on unscrupulous big game hunts in Africa.

    It is a capitalist system…and he can kill as many tame lions as he can pay for…

    Just don’t tar and feather legitimate sportsman who obey the rules and enjoy their sport over the actions of some idiot who has more money than sense….

    Greg Price

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/29/2015 - 10:56 am.

      I can’t tell . . . .

      I can’t tell if you’re defending him as a “legitimate sportsmen” because “It is a capitalist system…and he can kill as many tame lions as he can pay for” or if you’re indicting him as “some idiot who has more money than sense”.

      Regardless – they were hunting on the border of a game preserve, saw a lion INSIDE that game preserve, lured him OUT of the game preserve with food, and then shot him (although it took him another 48 hours to die).

      That is indefensible no matter HOW you try to frame it.

      • Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 07/29/2015 - 12:11 pm.

        And that’s not all…

        The lion was killed with an arrow. So the lion in fact bled to death over a 48 hour period! Doesn’t the word “humane” mean anything?

        • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 07/29/2015 - 03:27 pm.

          not true

          Let’s not start rumors shall we. The lion was shot with an arrow and wounded but subsequently tracked for 2 days and dispatched with a gun. None of that says it bled to death at all. Stick to the facts please.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/29/2015 - 12:10 pm.

      What’s legitimate about trophy hunting?

      It’s twisted behavior and just about every hunter I know is disgusted by it. Just because the guy has money doesn’t mean he’s above the law.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/29/2015 - 01:37 pm.

        Wolf meat (disgusting or yummy?)

        Although they’ve gotten a reprieve from a judge somewhere, and are now re-protected, it’s likely our state’s would-be big game hunters will be back gnawing on the legislature’s door for a judge-proof restoration of their (some-amendment) “right” to blow them away because wolves are the closest thing we’ve got to lions, and not every MN NRA member can afford a trip to Africa (and guides, and Landrover rentals and…).

        But one of the things I’ve always wondered about our dubious decision to allow people to hunt them (and picking up on what Rachel had to say about it) is:

        “Who eats wolf?”

        If any (successful) wolf hunters happen to be reading this, I’d be genuinely curious to know if you do, how you prepare it, what it tastes like, whether or not you serve it to family and friends during the holidays, and how you and they like it.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/29/2015 - 12:24 pm.

      Not sure about legitimate

      I’m a hunter, too. It’s nice to get a trophy (though I do object to hunting animals that aren’t ever intended for food), I get that. However, a legitimate sportsman would question why an animal needed to be lured away from one location to another–in this case from a protected area to private property. Then, a legitimate sportsman would not have spotlighted an animal in the dark to shoot it (with a crossbow, no less…). Pretty much every step taken by this so-called legitimate sportsman in this hunt should have rung alarm bells in his head. It turns out that, not only were his actions unsportsmanlike, they were illegal. He did not have a legal permit to kill that lion. His guides hoodwinked him, but he should have been smart enough to start questioning things when there were so many obvious signs. More money than sense, my big behind. A guy smart enough to get a dental degree and license ought to be smart enough to know better than this. He’s likely just sorry he got caught. And not for the first time. It’s my understanding that this guy also got convicted of poaching a bear in WI, too. Not surprisingly, the reason he was convicted of poaching a black bear wasn’t because he didn’t have a license to shoot a bear…it was because he shot it in a protected area and then lied and said he shot it elsewhere. Sound familiar? Legitimate sportsman…

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 07/29/2015 - 03:30 pm.


        Let it play out in court rather than rely on rumors. It may have been lured out but it also may not have. The dentist has his side of the story as well that may be correct. Try not to crucify him before he gets due process. As far as animals eaten for food, most animals killed in Africa are eaten by the locals and the hunter gets to take what he can back for a mount of he wants. To suggest animals like this are not eaten is not true.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/29/2015 - 03:46 pm.

          “To suggest animals like this are not eaten is not true.”

          Lions are not eaten. Dr. Palmer traveled half-way around the world solely for the sheer joy of killing an animal.

          • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 07/30/2015 - 11:25 am.


            I’ve spoken with trophy hunters that have hunted in Africa and have been told locals eat everything. If that did not happen in this case it is unfortunate but not required. Hunters have told me locals eat elephants, rhinos, lions, and all other animals taken for trophy. At times the hunters try some of the meat themselves but usually are not a fan of the flavor.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/30/2015 - 01:19 pm.

              “Unfortunate but not Required”

              Not to start a rumor or anything, but the lion here was beheaded (for home decor? Or to hide evidence?) and the carcass left to rot.

              Maybe the locals just weren’t hungry that day.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/30/2015 - 08:57 am.

          Unfortunately for Mr. Palmer, this lion was a collared lion. The location and movement of him are a known set of data points. The ease with which Cecil’s remains have been recovered is due to this device (and the location when the device was intentionally destroyed to stop its transmissions). Whether or not lions are eaten by local hunters, Cecil was found skinned and beheaded near the park–clearly there was no intent for anything but scavengers to consume him. It’s hard to give the benefit of the doubt in the lineup of these facts. As I said, it’s possible that Mr. Palmer went in unawares, but it’s hard to believe he didn’t at least suspect something fishy given the series of events.

  2. Submitted by Jim Million on 07/29/2015 - 08:08 am.

    …an otherwise average guy…

    Brian, that canard seems to beg many questions.

    The proper header for follow-up pieces might be: Sense and Sensibilities.

  3. Submitted by Bruce Bednarek on 07/29/2015 - 08:47 am.

    A special session … for fish.

    There seems to be one subject conspicuously missing in the reporting on this topic – to what degree do the rights of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe impact the current crisis and will the Ojibwe participate in an overall solution.

  4. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/29/2015 - 09:30 am.

    B’wana Palmer

    Dr. Palmer has spent huge sums of money to travel the world and pillage natural resources. There was no motive other than gratifying his ego. When he is called out, he mounts a weak defense of his actions and ends up blaming the locals for the destruction wrought at his behest.

    Whatever else he may be, Dr. Palmer is a living metaphor for colonialism.

  5. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 07/29/2015 - 10:05 am.

    A Zimbabwean jail is missing an inmate

    Please consider signing this petition to have the lion-killer Palmer extradited to face the music for his crimes:

    The poacher with whom Palmer worked is reportedly having a hearing today in court.

  6. Submitted by Evan Hansen on 07/29/2015 - 10:28 am.

    Torches and pitchforks

    A decent, upstanding neighbor and member of our church is a dentist. His life and livelihood are now being seriously threatened by bloodthirsty crazies from all over the world. Why? Because his practice *happens* to be in the same building as the dentist who killed the lion in Zimbabwe. Our friend had nothing to do with that.

    It’s preposterous to me that the internet “shame” trolls posting death threats with addresses, etc., feel fueled by a self-righteous (but frankly, perverted) sense of “justice.” As Jon Ronson notes in his book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” these people believe they’re Twittersphere heroes: “They think they’re Rosa Parks.”

    Additional irony: If an American had killed a human being in Africa, there’d be little to no internet outrage.

    The internet scares me. Pitchforks, torches, lynch mobs, insanity.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/29/2015 - 10:52 am.

      RE: Additional irony

      “If an American had killed a human being in Africa, there’d be little to no internet outrage.”

      Please provide proof.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 07/29/2015 - 11:40 am.


      There would probably be less outrage if a lion had killed a person, but it would still be greater than zero.

      If Dr. Palmer had stuck to shooting an abundant species like deer in Wisconsin this would be a non-issue outside of a few wacky PETA people. Instead though he went after an endangered species under very spurious circumstances. Quite frankly, it looks like public shaming is the only thing that gets through to people like this as they don’t seem to give a rat’s eye about laws or ethics. What else is it going to take to get them to stop?

      • Submitted by Evan Hansen on 07/29/2015 - 12:05 pm.


        I’m not sure how effective the #hashtag activists are at fomenting any substantive change. But it is really, palpably scary that innocent friends of mine are having their very lives threatened and their life’s work jeopardized and potentially ruined because that’s just no big deal to the overzealous internet crusaders who are fighting the evil #hashtag cause du jour before they move on to more important Kardashian controversies tomorrow.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/29/2015 - 12:14 pm.

          Just curious

          I agree that it’s unjust that your friend is suffering this kind of fallout over activities he was not involved in.

          But I’m curious – do you direct any of your anger over this towards Walter Palmer – the man who actually perpetrated the events that are now affecting your friend?

          • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/29/2015 - 12:31 pm.

            NOt sure that’s fair

            I’m not sure it’s fair to say that he must direct any of his anger at Walter Palmer for the pitchforks pointed at someone who had nothing to do with the whole affair. What Mr. Palmer did was his fault. What others do to someone other than Mr. Palmer is their fault. They’re not actually related and I agree that the public punishing other people should be ashamed. That being said, that Mr. Palmer’s actions have indirectly affected a business that doesn’t deserve it sounds like a dispute between the business and Mr. Palmer. If Mr. Palmer doesn’t have enough sense to stay out of trouble (this ain’t his first rodeo), then he just might not belong with that business.

            • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/29/2015 - 12:47 pm.

              I’m not defending or excusing the lynch mob, so don’t take anything I say to imply that I do.

              However, I just find it odd that all his ire seems directed towards the lynch mob and none at Walter Palmer who if – as you say – had had enough sense to stay out of trouble (especially as this is not his first time), then none of this would now be happening.

              As you point out, the parts of the business not directly connected with Mr. Palmer don’t deserve this. So I guess I feel that an attitude of holding him (in large part) responsible for the fallout just makes sense.

    • Submitted by Bruce Bednarek on 07/29/2015 - 12:51 pm.

      Your Neighbor’s Relationship to River Bluff Dental

      Evan, please clarify, is your upstanding, church going neighbor a partner of Dr. Palmer or is he independent of River Bluff Dental and just renting space in the building. If he is independent, than I support you. However if he is a partner or has any formal affiliation then my sympathy for his position wanes in that assuming that he knew of the passion Dr. Palmer has for Big Game Hunting he did not find it offensive enough to make a conscious decision to leave the partnership and relocate.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/29/2015 - 12:53 pm.

      Collateral damage

      Your friend’s situation is unfortunate, but not life-threatening. A “heavy inconvenience” and temporary financial setback, to be sure, but if he’s not already taking advantage of his office’s inadvertent downtime to sever his professional relationship with the guy (as in making the necessary legal and practical arrangements related to convincing him it would probably be best if he moved his part of the practice elsewhere), he ought to be looking for alternative space himself.

      And when it comes to your friend’s “complete innocence,” he may have a different perspective and less casual and supportive advice to give the next time a business partner he’s partially dependent on for his livelihood starts talking about his upcoming lion hunting trip.

      The silver lining in this situation is that it was only an internet shaming bomb that was dropped on whatever building his practice is in, and not one from a B-2 or drone.

  7. Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/29/2015 - 01:11 pm.

    The other Big Game

    Whoever came up with the “team game balls” concept must have taken too many hits to the head.

    The NFL rules in question:

    “Each team will make 12 primary balls available for testing by the Referee two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game”;

    “The balls shall inflated to 12 1/2 to 13 1/2 pounds”;

    “The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls comply with specifications.”

    If the inflation level’s so critical, why are teams bringing their own balls to games? Why doesn’t the NFL just have 12 1/2 to 13 1/2 pounders of their own on hand at game time and leave the team’s “Ball Specialists” out of it? You know… Do it like it’s done in every other sport? Do the Twins take their own balls to New York and use them there? Do the Timberwolves? Do the Wild travel with their own pucks?

    Or, if the NFL thinks it’s important for teams, or quarterbacks, to be able to inflate them to taste, why have any restrictions at all? If the Patriots want to take out ALL the air when they’re on offense and handle the ball like a frizzby, go at it and good luck. Or, if the 49ers want to pump them up to the point they start to look like weird volleyballs and try to make things work that way, well, okay… Let’s see what you got.

    Or if a team’s game plan called for different pressure in different situations, why not? Just another twist on the game. (Although I suppose, out of respect and tradition, a uniformly inflated ball would need to be used in all kicking situations, seeing as how that’s how the game got it’s name – back in the days before passing the ball was against the rules.)

    And $650 million in savings in subsidized health care programs? Matt Dean will twist and stretch his neck until he’s able to see and explain why that’s just more proof that MNSure and MinnesotaCare must go!

  8. Submitted by Jan Arnold on 07/29/2015 - 01:21 pm.

    Being Able to Afford the Hobby.

    Just an aside as I just came from a dentist. I was quoted $4000.00 for a procedure that should take about three hours – deep cleaning teeth to prevent further gum disease. This is why the dentist can afford his expensive hobby. They don’t have a payment plan but do have financing, I didn’t ask the interest rate.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/29/2015 - 02:10 pm.

      Expensive Hobby

      According to the Guardian, it cost Dr. Palmer about $55,000 just to shoot the lion. Add in his travel fees, accommodations, and other expenses and this senseless slaughter probably cost well over $60,000.

      Just to put it in perspective, the median annual family income in Minnesota is around $60,000.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/29/2015 - 02:28 pm.

        I wonder . . . .

        I wonder if he’s paying all his office staff at least minimum wage and if he was among those quibbling about the recently-legislated increases . . . . . .

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/29/2015 - 03:07 pm.


      there’s a lot of talk about the over-zealousness of some dentists to pitch root planing to patients. Years ago I actually changed dentists because the one I had was constantly trying to get me to commit to it. After speaking with some other patients that had the same issue, I found a new dentist and have been with him for twenty years. By the way, I never needed the “deep cleaning.” Get a second opinion.

  9. Submitted by richard owens on 07/29/2015 - 02:41 pm.

    Africans selling their continent’s fauna resources

    is one way money can be raised to preserve land and exotic animals that otherwise would be killed off. The selling of the right to kill a tagged pet lion is what makes it outrageous. Yet the practice of planned paid-for kills is a “business plan”.

    Trophy hunters pick the beast they want and then get a price quote, then end its life. It IS ugly.

    But CONSIDER: back in the day, the North American Continent had more biomass, more great mammals, birds and amphibians than anywhere else. The vast pine forests of enormous trees covered several states. The abundance of pristine water, plants animals and minerals enabled great exploitation and “prosperity”.

    Bison were shot for markets, then for sport. The descriptions of animals covering the great plains as far as the eye could see is our history. The slaughter of migratory birds that “blackened the skies” took millions of years of natural history and erased it in a few short years of wanton ignorant seekers of MONEY. (not that long ago!!)

    The trees were clear-cut and floated down the rivers of Michigan Wisconsin and Minnesota, leaving piles of trimmings and sawmill trash that caused horrible fires killing everything in their path. The soils left were mostly poor sand that supported only scrub..

    Recent reports on our natural history say we are arriving at the 6th great extinction. Are we unable to help ourselves? History tells us we are not able to stop ourselves- we are textbook entropy in action.

    Africa needs SMART “development”, i.e. exploitation of its natural resources. Is it even possible? The last White Rhino is being guarded 24/7 in Kenya, but he has not bred.

    Was it ever possible, even in North America? Is it hopeless?

    Tar sands and sulfide mining is North Americans’ own cross to bear.

    It’s easy to judge one selfish person and so hard to accept our collective indifference.

  10. Submitted by Tom Clark on 07/29/2015 - 02:52 pm.

    Maybe in addition to a stricter ban on the ivory trade

    President Obama could tack on a banning of “big game” hunting by U.S. citizens. There’s absolutely no need to hunt species that are endangered.

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