Zimbabwe seeking extradition over lion's death; man's rep contacts US agency

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A representative for the Minnesota dentist involved in the slaying of Cecil the lion has been in touch with U.S. authorities. And now, Zimbabwe officials say they're seeking to extradite the man.

The Guardian reports Oppah Muchinguri – the country's environment, water and minister – told reportes Friday Zimbabwe's prosecutor general has started taking steps to have Walter Palmer brought back to the African country.

They're asking U.S. authorities to cooperate so Palmer can "be made accountable" for his actions, the Associated Press reports.

Earlier this week, the 55-year-old dentist identified himself as the man who shot Cecil the lion, a protected and beloved research animal, saying he "deeply" regrets his actions.

Cecil, about 13 years old and a favorite of local wildlife lovers, was reportedly lured out of its park and killed earlier this month, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) wrote.

On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said it launched an investigation and wanted to speak with him.

A representative for Palmer apparently got in touch with the service that night.

Since the story broke, Palmer's River Bluffs Dental office has become the target of threats and protests. It's now closed, and Palmer's whereabouts are unknown.

His hunting guide, Theo Bronkhorst, appeared before a court on poaching charges Wednesday.

Minnesota U.S. Representative Betty McCollum has also requested the U.S. Attorney’s Office look into whether Palmer has violated any U.S. laws, she wrote on her Facebook page.

Could Palmer face prosecution in the U.S.?

In terms of what action could be taken against him in the United States, Slate says African lions aren’t endangered or threatened under U.S. law, so it was not illegal to kill the animal as per the Endangered Species Act.

However, the website argues that he could face action if the $55,000 he paid the wildlife guides for the privilege of killing Cecil is considered to be a bribe, which The Independent suggested Tuesday.

In this case, Slate notes, he could face action in America under federal laws that forbid “foreign travel with the intent to engage in certain ‘unlawful activities’ overseas,” which includes bribery.

Bloomington police meanwhile are investigating “terroristic threats” made against Palmer, who has been the subject of a barrage of online abuse this week, and told Reuters it would be “investigated like any other similar offense report.”

Although patrols have been stepped up around Palmer’s business and his home in Eden Prairie, local police have said they are not providing him with personal protection, according to this Eden Prairie police statement.

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