The Minnesota dentist whose killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe sparked widespread outrage returned to work Tuesday.
Dr. Walter Palmer had stayed out of public view for more than a month since facing condemnation and threats for killing the lion, which lived in Hwange National Park and was being studied by Oxford University researchers.
He hurried into his practice Tuesday without a word. Patrol cars were stationed outside, but Bloomington Police Department deputy chief Mike Hartley said the officers were largely there to manage traffic and wouldn’t be providing security services.
Palmer has said that he and his family were threatened by people outraged about the lion's death.
A handful of activists chanted “we will not falter, prosecute Walter” and heckled at least one patient entering Palmer’s office.
“I didn’t think it was going to be like this,” said patient Thomas Dressel, referring to the protesters and media attention.
Dressel said he didn’t plan on talking about Palmer’s hunting when he was in the dentist’s chair. “I don’t think all the negative attention and what’s going on would affect his ability to practice dentistry in any way,” he said.
Protesters had taped signs to the door, including "Justice for Cecil" and "How about you donate some of your money to endangered animals instead. Apparently you have plenty."
“It’s insane to me that he can walk back into work a month later … when we know that what he did was illegal,” said one protester, Rachel Augusta.
"If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study, obviously I wouldn't have taken it," Palmer told the AP and the newspaper in a joint interview.