Alaska News

What we know about Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist accused of killing Cecil the lion

The Twin Cities were at the center of a major international story Tuesday after a dentist from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, 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 in early July.

Asked about the allegations against him, Walter Palmer, 55, told the Star Tribune early Tuesday that "obviously, some things are being misreported," but did not elaborate. In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Palmer said he believed he was acting legally when he killed the lion.

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association said Tuesday that Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter, lured Cecil to a farm owned by Honest Trymore Ndlovu, where the lion was killed by an American tourist. Both Bronkhorst and Ndlovu have been arrested, and Zimbabwean authorities said they are looking for Palmer in connection with the case.

Here's what we know about Palmer:

According to a profile on his business website, Palmer is from North Dakota and graduated from the University of Minnesota dental school. He is married with two children.

He practices general and cosmetic dentistry in Bloomington. His office was closed Tuesday and a note on the building referred visitors to a Minneapolis public relations firm.

Palmer pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2008 related to the poaching of a black bear in Wisconsin two years earlier. Palmer and others transported the bear, which was killed 40 miles outside of a legal hunting zone, to a registration station inside the legal area. Palmer was sentenced to one year of probation and fined nearly $3,000.


In the spring of 2003, Palmer was convicted in Otter Tail County in western Minnesota and paid a small fine for fishing without a license, a misdemeanor.

Palmer was 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 a mountain lion. SCI announced Wednesday that it was suspending the memberships of Palmer and his Zimbabwe-based guide.

State records show Palmer has held hunting and fishing licenses in Minnesota, Florida and Alaska.

In a 2009 article on big-game hunting, the New York Times reported that Palmer killed a near-record sized elk with a bow and arrow in Northern California.

Palmer told the Times that he can hit a playing card from 100 yards with his compound bow and he eschews bringing a firearm on hunting trips as a backup.

Palmer reportedly paid more than $54,000 for the hunting trip to Zimbabwe.

A neighbor described Palmer and his wife as very private.

In 2009, Palmer agreed to a settlement with the Minnesota Board of Dentistry over allegations that he sexually harassed a receptionist. She alleged that Palmer made comments about her breasts, buttocks and genitalia. Without admitting guilt, Palmer settled and paid $127,500 to the woman, who also was his patient. The settlement included references to his bear-hunting conviction and "substandard record keeping."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that it is investigating the killing of Cecil the lion. The agency announced Friday that it has made contact with Palmer late Thursday.

A Zimbabwean official on Friday called for Palmer to be extradited to the African country to face charges related to the killing.