Cecil the lion was one of the most popular attractions at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park – until he was killed by Walter Palmer, a dentist from the U.S. who paid $55,000 for the “pleasure” to kill the 13-year-old wildlife celebrity. The backlash from animal lovers around the world has been so strong that the dentist’s website has shut down and his office is shuttered.

Palmer, a trophied archer, paid a guide to lure Cecil out of the park at night so he could be hunted. He shot and wounded Cecil with a bow, but was only able to kill him 40 hours later. Cecil was beheaded and skinned – his carcass remained unused.

Not only did his hunt kill a local celebrity at the park, but, according to the Zimbabwean Tourism Authority, the hunt was illegal, and a criminal investigation is currently under way. Cecil’s death will affect more than just him and his fans. Now that Cecil is gone, other male lions will probably kill off the 24 cubs that he had left with his pride to ensure that their own bloodlines live on instead.

(h/t: bbc, kstp.com)

Cecil the 13-year-old lion was a beloved celebrity at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park

Image credits: Brent Stapelkamp

That was until authorities found him shot. His carcass had been left, skinned and beheaded, outside of the park. The killers even tried to hide his tracking collar – but they failed

Image credits: Brent Stapelkamp

Someone had paid a guide $55,000 to lure him out of the park at night and shoot him with a crossbow. They tracked him for 40 more agonizing hours until he was finally killed

Image credits: Paula French

The Zimbabwean Tourism Authority later identified Walter Palmer, a dentist and trophy hunter from Minnesota, as the culprit

The Internet has responded angrily to his actions, and Palmer has been forced to close his dental office

Locals have covered the front door with flowers, signs and stuffed animals as a memorial for Cecil

The Yelp reviews have been especially brutal, dropping his rating to 1:

Even Ricky Gervais, a comedian, actor and animal rights activist, weighed in:

Zimbabwean authorities are looking for Palmer and investigating the killing, but he is reportedly back in the U.S.

Image credits: Paula French

Cecil left behind 24 cubs, who will probably killed by rival males seeking to replace him as alpha

Image credits: Paula French

In a statement, Palmer said “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt… I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion”

Image credits: Brent Stapelkamp

The last photo of Cecil ever taken. RIP

Image credits: Brent Stapelkamp

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