The most hated dentist in America—no small feat, I assure you—has spoken. Sadly, it seems Dr. Walter James Palmer is under the impression that “ignorance of the law” is a viable defense to allegedly illegally hunting Zimbabwe’s most beloved lion.
Palmer, the tooth-cleaning lion-killer, apparently sent out a letter to his patients Tuesday, as his involvement in the hunt became front-page news. The apology, as one might charitably describe it, essentially asks the public (looking at you, Jimmy Kimmel) why they’re freaking out so much—he totally thought it was legal, or whatever.
To wit: “I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.... I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion. That was never my intention.”
Which is to say, the gigantic shit storm that’s arisen out of the wholly illegal hunt was never his intention. Fair enough. Maybe he really had no idea.
(Palmer, who could very well have learned his lesson, does have a history with these things: he pleaded guilty in 2009 to lying to officials after he killed a black bear in Wisconsin.)
From: River Bluff Dental
Date: July 28, 2015 at 7:50:58 PM CDT
Subject: Letter from Dr. Palmer
River Bluff Dental
July 28, 2015
To my valued patients:
As you may have already heard, I have been in the news over the last few days for reasons that have nothing to do with my profession or the care I provide for you. I want you to know of this situation and my involvement
In addition to spending time with my family, one of my passions outside dentistry is hunting. I’ve been a life-long hunter since I was a child growing up in North Dakota. I don’t often talk about hunting with my patients because it can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic. I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting.
In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.
I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.
I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have.
Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion. That was never my intention.
The media interest in this matter – along with a substantial number of comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general – has disrupted our business and our ability to see our patients. For that disruption, I apologize profoundly for this inconvenience and promise you that we will do our best to resume normal operations as soon as possible. We are working to have patients with immediate needs referred to other dentists and will keep you informed of any additional developments.
On behalf of all of us at River Bluff Dental, thank you for your support.
Walter J. Palmer, DDS