Government officials in Zimbabwe said Monday that they won’t charge American dentist Walter Palmer in the July death of Cecil the Lion.
Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters that authorities had been investigating whether or not to prosecute Mr. Palmer, 55, but ultimately determined that the dentist had acquired the proper permits when he went big-game hunting in Zimbabwe earlier this year and killed the 13-year-old prized lion with a bow and arrow.
“We approached the police and then the Prosecutor General, and it turned out that Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order,” the official said.
Mr. Palmer landed at the center of an international scandal after the lion’s death was reported earlier this year, and reports surfaced suggesting he spent upwards of $50,000 to go on safari outside of Hwange National Park where Cecil resided and had it lured to a neighboring farm.
“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,” Mr Palmer told reporters last month. “Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”
Two individuals — a professional hunter in the region and the owner of a nearby game park — continue to face charges in Zimbabwe over the killing of the lion.
Mr. Palmer is welcome to return to Zimbabwe, Ms. Muchinguri-Kashiritold reporters on Monday, but he won’t be given a hunting permit next time.