Protests Greet Dentist Who Killed Cecil the Lion as He Returns to Work

Walter Palmer arrives at the River Bluff Dental clinic in Bloomington, Minnesota, on September 8. Eric Miller/Reuters

The dentist who killed the rare, black-maned lion, Cecil, during a hunt in Zimbabwe earlier this year was greeted by protesters as he returned to work at his clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday morning.

Dr. Walter Palmer paid wildlife guides $55,000 to shoot the 13-year-old lion with a crossbow in July. He was part of a hunting party that lured Cecil out of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park using an animal carcass. He spent weeks in hiding, and is under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Zimbabwe has not sought his extradition.

A few protesters gathered outside of the River Bluff Dental clinic in Bloomington, Minnesota, before Palmer arrived at 7 a.m. Messages posted to the door read: "Justice for Cecil" and "May you never hunt again," the Associated Press reported. As he walked into the building, an employee grabbed his arm and they cleared their way through a crowd of reporters without speaking to anyone, according to the AP. Staff members escorted patients inside the clinic throughout the morning.

Palmer, who continues to say his hunt was legal, had closed his dental practice in July amid threats and the international uproar that followed after he was identified publicly as the hunter who killed the lion. He has said he didn't know the lion was Cecil at the time of the hunt. Cecil was a popular tourist attraction in the southern African country and had a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University research project.

Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter who allegedly helped Palmer kill the lion, has pleaded not guilty to failing to prevent an unlawful hunt. His trial is set for September 28. Honest Ndlovu, the owner of the farm where Cecil was killed who also faces poaching charges, is expected to appear in court on September 18.