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Dr. Walter James Palmer, this is not an attack of words geared toward you like a malicious barrage of arrows or bullets you have put into countless animals. Nor is it a call to arms to boycott you or your Minnesota-based dental practice.

Instead, this is a few hundred words to begin a conversation about why big-game hunting is cruel, inhumane, disturbing and downright distasteful.

Dr. Palmer, I’m not sure why you found it necessary to allegedly pay $50,000 to travel to Zimbabwe, lure Cecil the lion from the Hwange National Park onto private land with the carcass of another innocent animal and illegally put arrows and bullets through him.

Unfortunately, I will probably never know the real reason you decided to slaughter an innocent animal who has done nothing but great things in his 13 years in the African wildlife.

Dr. Palmer, did you know that Cecil was displaced from his pride? Did you know that he befriended Jericho, another male lion, and that together they watched over two separate prides consisting of a total of six lionesses and seven cubs? Did you fail to see the GPS collar around Cecil’s neck that Oxford University field researchers had used to track the gentle giant since 2008?

No matter your answers, I will never be able to relate to your side of the story. Not because I am some kind of tree-hugging vegetarian who believes humans should eat only fruits and vegetables. Not because I am a dog lover who is not that fond of having cats as pets. But because, in this world of questionable antics, gun-control debates and ridiculous regulations, I am a firm believer in good morals, treating others how you want to be treated and doing the right thing.

Dr. Palmer, I believe that your morals were in question when you killed an innocent animal, especially when there are fewer than 30,000 lions living in the wild in Africa, according to Panthera.org. I believe that you wouldn’t have wanted Cecil to maul you, so why did you feel the need to kill him? And, after you set out on your journey for a big-game trophy, I truly believe that you knew what you were doing was illegal.

Dr. Palmer, does Cecil’s head on your wall and his hide on your floor make you feel more like a man? Do you relive the shots you took at the innocent animals you killed every time you walk in your house and see their heads hanging helplessly on your walls?

Although I think what you did was wrong, I want to thank you for sparking a conversation for change, which will eventually help save the lives of numerous lions, tigers, cheetahs, zebras and other big-game animals.

I want to thank you for giving South African Airways, Emirates, British Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines a reason to ban transportation of big-game trophies.

But, most of all, I want you to stop hiding and face the music.

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Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter @JHeil11 or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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