The American dentist who shot Cecil the lion during a hunt in Zimbabwe has now hired a private security firm after his Florida vacation home was spray-painted with the words "Lion killer!" on Monday night.
"We have armed investigators on the property, we’re setting up covert cameras, we’re documenting all license plates and we also have other mechanisms set up, but I won’t say what they are," private investigator Walter Zalisko, a former New Jersey cop, told the New York Post
"Every investigator is a former police officer. They are all highly trained, armed with handguns and are all licensed by the state of Florida."
In addition to vandalizing the garage door of the $1.1 million waterfront property in Marco Island, the perpetrators also scattered pickled pigs feet on the premises. Zalisko speculated that the act was likely carried out by "kids or animal activists."
The dentist, Walter J. Palmer, has come under fire from animal rights advocates after it came to light the lion was allegedly lured from a national park and illegally hunted and killed. The lion was under scientific observation, having been fitted with GPS collars over a number of years.
Palmer said in a statement that he "relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt." One of those guides, Theo Bronkhorst, will go to trial for the allegedly illegal hunt in September in Zimbabwe.
Zalisko said that he and his fellow security providers would not take a public stance on the accusations surrounding the lion.
"We don’t dwell on the accusations," Zalisko said. "Our jobs are specific and we just take care of business. We don’t let our personal feelings get in the way. We’re all former police officers and we’ve seen it all. We just do our jobs."
On Tuesday, The New York Times published
an op-ed by a Zimbabwe native currently working toward a doctoral degree in the U.S.
"In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror," wrote Goodwell Nzou.
Nzou went on to tell a tale of how he and his fellow villagers "danced and sang" when a lion that had terrorized his village years ago was finally vanquished.
"The American tendency to romanticize animals that have been given actual names and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus," he concluded.
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