A southwest Florida vacation home owned by the American dentist who killed an iconic lion in Zimbabwe last month has been vandalized, spray-painted with the words “Lion Killer!”
Both Reuters and the Associated Press reported that spray paint was left on the garage door of a Marco Island home owned by Walter Palmer, though it’s unclear when the act of vandalism occurred.
Marco Island Police Capt. Dave Baer told The Washington Post that authorities were notified Tuesday about the garage-door vandalism. Some time later, Baer said, he started receiving calls about pickled pigs’ feet left at the scene, and officers went to the home to investigate further.
They believe that someone left the pigs’ feet on the driveway but that they were quickly removed by a neighbor. Photographers were able to capture pictures of the feet, however.
The garage-door vandalism is being investigated as criminal mischief, a first-degree misdemeanor, Baer said. It’s unclear whether leaving the pigs’ feet would be considered a criminal act.
Palmer, a Minnesota dentist and big-game hunter, sparked widespread outrage after he killed a 13-year-old lion known as Cecil.
“It is kind of a global village,” said Baer, the police captain. “Something that someone allegedly does in another country does impact people locally.”
According to the AP, a sign criticizing Palmer was left in the yard of the $1.1 million property last week.
“A security company has been hired to protect the property,” the AP noted.
Palmer has remained out of sight since the hunt drew international attention and criticism — and led to calls for his extradition to Zimbabwe. In a statement obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune last week, Palmer said he had “no idea” the lion was a “known, local favorite.”
“I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” he said in that statement.
A nongovernmental organization called the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force has claimed that Cecil was lured off the Hwange National Park, where he lived.
“They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil,” the group said in a statement. “They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometer from the park. Mr. Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn’t kill him.
“They tracked him down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun. They found that he was fitted with a GPS collar because he was being studied by the Hwange Lion Research, funded by Oxford University so they tried to destroy the collar but failed because it was found.”
In the aftermath of the hunt, protesters gathered at Palmer’s dental practice, and a representative contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement on his behalf.