Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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Cecil the Lion, a famed and beloved resident of Hwange national park in Zimbabwe, was hunted and killed for $55,000 by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer.

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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The 13-year-old lion was collared as part of an Oxford University programme.

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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Officials are now concerned about Cecil's six cubs, because they will likely be killed by another lion.

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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Thousands of people, including many celebrities and animal activists, have mourned the death of Cecil the Lion on social media, with #CecilTheLion trending on Twitter all through this week. Photo: Vince O'Sullivan/Creative Commons

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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Cecil the lion (right, darker mane) fighting with a male lion called Jericho in May last year at the Ngweshla Picnic site at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Photo: Ken Watkins/Solent News

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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Walter Palmer, left, is pictured with a dead lion in 2008. The dentist is a big game hunter.

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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A sign posted on the door at River Bluff Dental, which Palmer owns, on 28 July in Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo: Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Getty Images

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

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Protestors from Animal Rights Coalition and Minnesota Animal Liberation gather in front of Palmer's dental practice. Photo: Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Getty Images

TROPHY HUNTS

Death of a Lion King: the killing that outraged the world

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

As outrage grows over the killing of Cecil the lion, Zimbabwe has called on the United States to extradite American dentist Walter Palmer who shot the most famous creature in one of Zimbabwe's national parks this month.

Zimbabwe hopes the US will cooperate, said Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe's environment minister.

Walter Palmer "had a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the US," Muchinguri said.

Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to hunt the lion with a crossbow near Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe. The animal was shot on 1 July.

It turned out to be Cecil - a major tourist draw at Hwange - who had been lured out of the park sanctuary with a dead animal on top of a vehicle, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.

The 13-year-old lion suffered a slow death, the conservation group said. Amid the uproar over the hunt, Palmer's whereabouts remain unknown.

A White House petition requesting that Palmer, who killed the prized lion, be extradited to Zimbabwe to face justice is awaiting a response from the Obama administration.

The petition needed to receive 100,000 signatures by 27 August to get a response. It had more than 160,000 signatures by early 31 July.

Walter Palmer told Colorado News that he didn't know the lion he had killed was a "local favourite".

"In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal," he said.

Prosecutors in Zimbabwe have charged Theo Bronkhorst, the hunter who supervised Mr Palmer's outing, for killing a lion not authorised to be hunted. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Priyata Brajabasi

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB