Zimbabwean officials are seeking to extradite the Minnesota dentist who killed ‘Cecil’ the lion, a Cabinet minister told the Associated Press on Friday but there’s one problem – American officials can’t find him.
“Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin,” Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s environment, water and climate minister, said at a news conference. “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable.”
It appears Dr. Walter Palmer of River Bluff Dental is hiding.
Investigators for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have stopped by Palmer’s home, his dental office, called all his known phone numbers and stuffed his inbox with emails, the Washington Post reports.
Zimbabwe wants the United States to extradite Palmer as soon as he’s found.
Palmer previously said he regrets killing Cecil and blames the guides he hired.
In a public statement released on Tuesday, Palmer said he’d hired guides to secure permits and was under the impression his activity was legal. He also said he had no idea the lion he shot was a local favorite and part of a study. Palmer hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
“I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have,” he said at the time.
Since Palmer was identified as the hunter of Cecil, he’s been caught in a social media firestorm.
In response to the controversy, his business has closed (at least for now) and it’s become a shrine to the 13-year-old lion, with stuffed animals and angry signs. His website is no longer online.