The Collared Lion Killer

I had previously penned a piece entitled "More-On: The Lion Dentist," and stated that "I may have misspelled a couple of words in that headline, but the pronunciation is correct." The same is true here; please read the headline here anyway you feel it best describes the lion slayer who killed Cecil.

Thursday night ABC News "20/20" featured the story of Walter James Palmer, the detested dentist who reportedly slaughtered Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. He has become the poster boy for trophy hunters, probably because of the circumstances surrounding Cecil's butchery. The lion was beloved, collared as part of an Oxford University study, and allegedly baited out of his protected reserve using the carcass of an elephant being drug behind a pickup truck by the hunting crew. (It was not reported where these alleged trolls obtained the dead elephant parts.)

And if that wasn't enough to cinch Palmer's place in disgrace, it is further alleged that a spotlight from the truck may have been used to blind Cecil, at which point Palmer wounded him with a sophisticated bow and arrow. Keep in mind that Cecil was accustomed to being around vehicles and often approached them on his preserve so tourists could photograph him.

It is further alleged that the wounded Cecil was left to suffer while Palmer and his crew went to sleep, then 40 hours later finished the dirty deed, followed by beheading and skinning the lion, then leaving his rotting carcass for the other vultures in the area. It is also alleged that that the hunting crew may have attempted to deceive authorities by removing Cecil's GPS collar, moving it about to confuse those looking for him, and finally hiding the collar.

Of course, Palmer is by no means alone in the blood "sport" of trophy hunting. There are many others who get their pleasures from killing elephants, lions, giraffes and other descendants of Noah's Ark, then happily posing for photo ops with their dead bodies. It is a genetic defect unique to humans -- the only species that kills as a recreational pastime.

Calling this a "sport" may sound like a fun game, but the animals never volunteer to play. I have a hunch the hunted animals would prefer to happily sit on the sidelines and not be tormented and killed.

Hunters also like to distinguish between "legal" and "illegal" kills, a difference entirely irrelevant to the dead animal. But that distinction helps make Palmer one of the most hated hunters in the world.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, ABC News "20/20" obtained a photo of Palmer with a bear he reportedly illegally killed in Wisconsin in 2006. "Bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"

According to allegations in the report, here's what Palmer did do-- he tried to bribe his guides about $20,000 to lie about the circumstances of the illegal kill. His scheme reportedly failed and he plead guilty to a felony, was fined and sentenced to one year on probation.

Palmer's dental office has been closed and he has apparently been in hiding since killing Cecil. There have been no known efforts to bait Palmer out of his protected sanctuary.

Unlikely as it may seem, ABC found that he has a friend. This individual reportedly knew Palmer since they were kids, who together hunted pheasant, geese and white-tailed deer in the fields of North Dakota. The boyhood pal reportedly reminisced "Had a lot of good times up here." (As an aside, while this may have been fun for the boys, I assume the birds and deer did not have such a good time.)

At any rate, it was probably good practice for serial animal killer Palmer. The Star Tribune in Minneapolis reports that he allegedly grew up to kill at least 43 other animals, including moose, deer, buffalo, a polar bear and a mountain lion. He is also seen posing with another dead lion and with an elephant.

Palmer's friend also reportedly told "20/20" that Palmer was generous and was the "type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back." He certainly has been generous. He has been reported that he allegedly paid $50,000 to kill Cecil and $127,500 to settle a prior sexual harassment lawsuit.

As far as giving you the shirt off his back, perhaps he should keep it on-- it might expose an embarrassing yellow streak.

Let's end on a happier note: