Skip to main content

It's been a year since Cecil the Lion died – has anything changed?


A year ago today, a Minnesota dentist took a shot with his crossbow that would lead to worldwide condemnation, forcing him into temporary hiding.

On July 1, 2015, trophy hunter Walter Palmer killed the lion known as Cecil after he had been lured from a protected nature reserve by professional guides in Zimbabwe.

The killing led to protests outside Palmer's Bloomington dental office and a skewering by the worldwide media. But it also sparked a global conversation about the ethics of trophy hunting.

One year later, we take a look at Cecil's legacy:

Hunting laws

National Geographic reports in the wake of Cecil's death, several countries restricted hunters from taking lion trophies across their borders – with France and Australia putting in place outright bans.

The U.S. – the world's biggest importer – added new protections meaning hunters can't bring back trophies unless the animal came from a country that uses the fees to bolster lion conservation.

More than 40 airlines now refuse to carry trophies, and a coalition of 10 African countries are planning to ban commercial trade in lion parts.

There have been more widespread calls to ban trophy hunting altogether – including from some famous names.

Lion conservation

The killing renewed focus on lion conservation with concerns raised not just about hunting.

A new study reported by Traveller 24 this week says the African lion population has declined by 43 percent over the last two decades.

The biggest killers are habitat loss as a result of population growth, bushmeat poaching, and conflicts with livestock owners – which combined kill 10 times more lions every year than trophy hunting.

The world's leading conservation groups are coming together to set up a plan to save the lion, according to the Daily Express, but the report calls for a $1.25 billion annual budget to protect lions' natural wild spaces from human encroachment.

Later this year, Panthera and Oxford University’s WildCRU – which had tagged Cecil for monitoring – will host the “Cecil Summit” for the world’s premier lion scientists to produce a plan of action to save the species.

Cecil's pride

Cecil was the leader of a pride of lions comprising three females and seven cubs, who are now being ruled with the help of Cecil's non-biological "brother" Jericho, according to People.

Pride members "are still all alive and well and still within their normal home range," the WildCRU project's Andrew Loveridge said.

Walter Palmer

According to the Star Tribune, the dentist – who lives in Eden Prairie – is still be investigated by federal authorities over his role in the 13-year-old lion's death.

Even though Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said in August that Palmer – who paid $55,000 for the hunt – would not be held responsible, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still probing whether he violated the the Lacey Act that prosecutes illegal trafficking in wildlife.

Palmer returned to work in September.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Post Bucks win, KAT says “I play with f****** passion”

Towns was asked how he controls his emotions on the court.

D'Angelo Russell

Wolves rebound with statement win against Bucks

D'Angelo Russell and the Timberwolves bounced back with a win over the defending champs.

Screen Shot 2021-10-27 at 7.08.20 PM

Train carrying ethanol derails in southern Minnesota

The State Fire Marshal has sent in experts to help with the situation.


Motorcyclist dies a month after striking deer in Minnesota

The crash happened north of Mankato near the small town of Norseland.

fire pixabay stock

House explosion kills 1, severely injures another

Authorities described the home as "completely destroyed."

Kotyza-Witthuhn screengrab

Watch: MN lawmaker 'attacked' by giggling child during live hearing

This has to be the most adorable moment ever from a Commerce Finance and Policy Committee hearing, right?

Sloane Martin

Sloane Martin leaving WCCO Radio for bigger role with Big Ten Network

Martin has been a staple at WCCO Radio since Election Day 2016.

Flickr - Xcel Energy truck - Tony Webster

Xcel Energy wants to raise MN customers' electricity rates

If approved, rates go up by an average of $18.50 a month for customers.

Screen Shot 2021-10-27 at 1.11.05 PM

MPD chief 'confident' officers will still show up after Question 2 vote

Arradondo held a press conference Wednesday in which he urged for a 'No' vote.

J R Jones - Anoka County Jail 2021.10.16 - Resize crop

Charges: Driver in fatal hit-and-run said he thought he hit dog or sign

The crash killed a 56-year-old Blaine woman who had been out walking her dog.

vaccine, covid

Here is Minnesota's plan to vaccinate kids 5-11 against COVID-19

The plan includes hosting vaccination clinics at schools across the state.

Mounds View PD missing 12yo Riddley

12-year-old Twin Cities boy has been missing for 4 days

Police are asking for the public's help locating the child,


Cecil the lion was lured with elephant meat before being killed by MN dentist, book claims

The university researcher tracking Cecil has written an account of his death.