Zimbabwe officials will not charge the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the Lion after concluding he had conducted his big game hunt legally.
Zimbabwean Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters that authorities have determined that Walter Palmer went to Zimbabwe for the hunt in July with “all the papers” in order, Reuters reports.
Muchinguri-Kashiri added that the dentist obtained legal permission to conduct the hunt and could not be charged.
The cabinet minister said that Palmer had legal permission to conduct the hunt that resulted in the death of the country’s most prized lion, Cecil.
Palmer killed the animal with a bow and arrow during the hunt in the country’s Hwange National Park.
The death of the famous lion sparked global outrage, but Palmer, who owns a dental practice in Bloomington, Minnesota, has long held that he took all the necessary steps to make the hunt legal.
He spent weeks in hiding when he was publicly identified as the hunter who killed the beloved lion.
Palmer said in a July statement that several “professional guides” secured the proper permits for the hunt and “everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.”
Zimbabwe officials finally agreed with him on Monday after months of threatening to press charges and have him extradited back to the African nation for trial, according to Reuters.
The Minnesota dentist has yet to comment publicly on the news, but in recent months, Palmer has been trying to get back to some level of normalcy in his life.
Palmer’s River Bluff Dental reopened (he shut it down in the wake of the controversy) in August and he returned to work in September.
As he arrived at his small dental practice, Palmer was met by a slew of protesters who called for his extradition to Zimbabwe to face trial for killing the lion, who was part of an Oxford University research project.
“If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study obviously I wouldn’t have taken it,” he said previously.