Minnesota dentist won't be charged in lion killing

Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer became the subject of public outrage after killing the beloved Cecil the Lion this July, and Zimbabwe's environment minister announced Monday he won’t be charged and Zimbabwe officials are no longer calling for his extradition.

He can now return to Zimbabwe as a "tourist" because he had not broken any of the country's hunting laws, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said, the Associated Press reported. Zimbabwe's police and the National Prosecuting Authority had cleared Palmer of wrongdoing, she said. 

Palmer was met by a barrage of protesters as he finally returned to work at his Bloomington, Minn. dental practice on Sept. 8. He has said he relied on his paid, licensed guides in what he thought was a fully-legal hunt. Palmer also said he was open to speaking with authorities as part of the two-continent investigation. He said in September he felt safe to return to work and had the support of his staff and patients, but he didn’t say where he has been for the last 6 weeks, nor did he disclose the security measures he’s taken for himself or his family.

Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who helped Palmer shoot and kill the lion, has been charged for allowing an illegal hunt, and has pleaded not guilty. He said he had never heard of the lion before the incident, and contended had it been "any other lion," there would have been no public outcry.

Palmer paid reportedly $50,000 to kill the 13-year-old lion in early July outside the confines of the park after hunters had apparently removed and tried to destroy Cecil's collar, which was fitted with GPS collar as part of research for Oxford University. Palmer said he shot the lion using an arrow from a compound bow, but it didn’t die right away. Cecil reportedly was killed with a gun after 40 hours, but Palmer said the lion was tracked down the next day and killed with an arrow.