BALTIMORE (WJZ)–An American dentist is facing major backlash for killing one of Africa’s best known lions. A lion so popular, he was a major tourist draw for Zimbabwe.

As Jessica Kartalija reports, local animal experts are shocked and saddened by the death of such a majestic creature.

Cecil was a rare black-maned lion who wowed visitors at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. But this week his carcass was discovered skinned and headless outside the park.

Conservationists say Cecil was baited into leaving the protected reserve by hunters who tied a dead animal to the back of a truck, luring the lion to a neighboring farm.

There, Cecil was shot with a bow and arrow, but only wounded. He was hunted for another 40 hours before being shot dead.

Minnesota Dentist Walter Palmer paid $55,000 for a permit to kill a lion.

Experts at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore say they are appalled.

“If the reports are accurate on what happened here, it was very unethical, very inappropriate and from everything I have seen, it doesn’t even meet the standards of the safari association,” said Mike McClure.

Mike McClure is general curator at the Maryland Zoo.

“You have these really special animals that people get to know and through those animals you are able to further conservation efforts and help people develop respect for them. In this case, you’ve taken one of those animals and lost it in the world,” said McClure.

A seasoned big game hunter, Palmer has travelled the world in pursuit of animal trophies.

He released a statement saying, “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

McClure says, “You have a responsibility too–especially if you are going out to take the life of an animal. You have a responsibility to make sure everything is in place and everything is appropriate.”

A police official in Zimbabwe said that two Zimbabweans have also been arrested in the case, they are free tonight on bail.

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