Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who received international attention after admitting he killed a famed African lion named Cecil earlier this summer, has returned to work.
Palmer hasn't been seen for more than a month after becoming the subject of global outrage following Cecil's killing, forcing him to temporarily close his dental practice. The clinic reopened in mid-August, but without Palmer.
In an interview over the weekend, Palmer told The Associated Press and the Star Tribune his staff and patients at River Bluff Dental wanted him back, maintaining he believes he was acting legally when he killed the lion.
He vowed to return to work, and on Tuesday morning he was greeted by a handful of protesters calling for an end to trophy hunting, as well as local and national media outlets.
Palmer arrived at the Bloomington office at 7:02 a.m., FOX 9 reports. The 55-year-old dentist parked across the street from his practice and "strode toward" the building, the Star Tribune says, noting he smiled, but didn't say anything to the people outside.
A staff member met him on the sidewalk outside of the building, grabbed his arm and rushed him to the door through the crowd of media members convened outside, The Associated Press says.
Employees at the clinic have also been escorting patients from their vehicles inside, reports say, and some Bloomington police officers were also present.
Palmer was also met with support on his return to work Tuesday. One of his patients told Reuters that he was heartbroken for Palmer, saying he has a problem with how people tried to "slander" the dentist.
Cecil, a popular lion at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe with his distinctive black mane, was wearing a GPS collar that was monitored for research purposes by Oxford University when he was killed.
The hunting guide and the owner of the property on which Cecil was killed have both been charged with participating in an illegal hunt, and some officials in Zimbabwe have called for Palmer’s extradition to that country for possible charges as well.
An attorney who describes himself as an unpaid adviser to Palmer said he has not heard from officials in the U.S. or Zimbabwe in several weeks about their investigations, the AP notes.