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Cecil, Zimbabwe's Best-Known Lion, Is Killed

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are also tracking the story of the dentist and the lion. The dentist is an American big game hunter who visited Zimbabwe. The lion was named Cecil, 13 years old and much photographed, the star attraction of Zimbabwe's biggest game reserve.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Conservationists say he was deliberately lured from that national park so he could be shot by that American hunter. The American aimed his bow and arrow at the animal.

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JOHNNY RODRIGUEZ: And then they didn't kill it outright, so they followed it for the next 40 hours. And then they found it, and they shot it with a rifle, killed it, took its head off and skinned it.

INSKEEP: That's Johnny Rodriguez, chairman for the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, speaking with the BBC. The death of the lion may well be followed by the deaths of his cubs.

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RODRIGUEZ: What normally happens is that when a new male comes into the pride and takes over, he kills all the cubs so he can bring - get the females to come on heat and produce his own kids.

MONTAGNE: That sad story helps to explain the online outrage now focused on the hunter. His name is Walter Palmer. He's from Eden Prairie, Minn.

INSKEEP: People have now targeted the website of his dental practice and signed petitions demanding justice. Palmer says his guides told him he was conducting a legal hunt, and he didn't realize he was killing a national treasure. So far, two Zimbabweans believed to have organized that hunt have been arrested. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.