Time to Shut Down Trophy Imports of All Lions to the United States

By on July 31, 2015 with 22 Comments

Overnight, we learned that Zimbabwean officials will seek to extradite Walter Palmer from the United States, for luring a male lion named Cecil out of a park and wounding him in an unauthorized area, before killing him 40 hours later. The HSUS and Humane Society International (HSI) strongly urge the United States to cooperate with the extradition effort.

If Palmer broke the law, plaudits are due to Zimbabwean officials for seeking his prosecution. Apparently, the authorities have charged the guide involved and plan to bring charges against the landowner. Let’s face it — these three horsemen of the apocalypse knew exactly what they were doing. Palmer has a museum full of dead animals registered in the Pope and Young and Safari Club International record books – from lions to polar bears to rhinos, most of them shot with bow and arrow. Throughout his life, he has intentionally sought out the biggest specimens of animals in order to get his name memorialized as a “successful” trophy hunter. He had designs on Cecil because he was one of the biggest lions around. This was not chance, as Palmer claimed; it was a professional hit.

I am glad that there’s such worldwide outrage about Walter Palmer and his trophy killing. What he and his shoot-for-pay guides did was evil. Editorial boards, columnists, and average citizens are talking about his moral crime across the globe, and demanding justice. A White House petition calling on the U.S. government to extradite Palmer had gathered more than 170,000 signatures this morning.

But if the focus begins and ends with Walter Palmer, we will not have appropriately addressed the larger problem. That’s why we are glad to see so many others focused on the larger issues.

Yesterday, Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus – both stalwart champions of animal welfare – led a letter signed by 48 other House Democratic members urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to finalize its proposed rule listing the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The United Nations General Assembly has also passed a resolution condemning the poaching and trafficking of wildlife and calling on governments worldwide to take action to tackle these challenges. And on Monday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a devoted friend to the work of The HSUS and HSI, is introducing a bill to ban all imports of trophies and parts from African lions and other at-risk species into the United States. The bill is called the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act.

That’s because Palmer is not so different from thousands of other wealthy trophy hunters in the United States and throughout the world, who hopscotch all over the earth in luxury and comfort to kill the largest “specimens” of the rarest mammals. Baiting, jacklighting, shooting in parks or fenced areas, with guides even drugging animals to allow these aging men to shoot these magnificent creatures, are all par for the course. That’s their hobby, albeit a warped, selfish, and inhumane one. It’s going on every day in the remote reaches of the globe, enabled by professional guides and wildlife officials who are at least complicit if not directly on the take from rich people with a mania for killing the most beautiful creatures in the world.

As for Zimbabwe, this is a country long plagued by terrible leadership in the post-colonial era, and it is a nation deeply corrupted, autocratic, and ruthless when it comes to the treatment of wildlife. Walter Palmer went there because there are too many officials there ready and willing to sell off wildlife to the highest bidder. Good for them for seeking extradition this time– but let’s just not be fooled into thinking that this is a principled, forward-thinking government at work.

Zimbabwe is even allowing wealthy foreigners to slay elephants for trophies. That program is so badly managed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suspended imports of elephant trophies from that country in 2014 and again in 2015.

If Zimbabwe is serious about taking action, it should follow in the footsteps of Botswana and ban all trophy hunting. It should turn the pages of the history books and step into the era of wildlife watching and appreciation. Eco-tourism dwarfs trophy hunting in its economic impact, and it’s got great promise as a sustainable means of livelihood for Africans and African economies. Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and other nations are showing the way. Now it’s time for Zimbabwe to stop allowing targets on the backs of its glorious and diminishing wildlife.

It’s time for these nations to tell the Walter Palmers that the world is no longer open for the kind of business they want to pursue – bloody, ruthless, with  no moral value, and one of such depravity that it is an ugly mark on all of humanity.

Ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to protect African lions from extinction »

American Public Roars After It Gets a Glimpse of International Trophy Hunting of Lions

By on July 29, 2015 with 73 Comments
American Public Roars After It Gets a Glimpse of International Trophy Hunting of Lions

Cecil the lion is dead because Walter Palmer the dentist is a morally deadened human being. The man traveled clear across the world – from the suburbs of Minneapolis into the pay-to-slay world of Zimbabwe, where dictator Robert Mugabe sells off hunting rights and other natural resources to the highest bidders – for the chance . . . 

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Breaking News: Cheesecake Factory Makes Major Announcement on Gestation Crates, Cage-Free Eggs

By on July 28, 2015 with 1 Comment
Breaking News: Cheesecake Factory Makes Major Announcement on Gestation Crates, Cage-Free Eggs

The Cheesecake Factory—a restaurant chain with nearly 200 locations—announced it is embracing the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare for its farm animal procurement program. The first steps include eliminating pork from operations that use gestation crates by 2020 (two years ahead of its earlier announced timeframe) and switching exclusively to cage-free eggs with a timeline that . . . 

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Breaking News: Nepalese Organizers Announce an End to the World’s Bloodiest Animal Sacrifice Spectacle

By on July 28, 2015 with 16 Comments
Breaking News: Nepalese Organizers Announce an End to the World’s Bloodiest Animal Sacrifice Spectacle

A few months back, I wrote with burning anger and sadness about the world’s largest animal sacrifice, Nepal’s Gadhimai festival, an event held every five years that results in an orgy of killing – nearly half a million animals slaughtered in the open air. Today, I have extraordinary and unexpected news: Humane Society International/India and . . . 

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MARC’ed Progress

By on July 27, 2015 with 3 Comments
MARC’ed Progress

In January, with an inside view from a long-serving, whistleblowing veterinarian, The New York Times exposed appallingly cruel and unnecessary experimentation on farm animals at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), a government-run laboratory in Nebraska. Reporter Michael Moss documented scientists at the Center locking pigs in steam chambers until they died, breeding calves . . . 

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Breaking News: Obama Announces Landmark Commercial Trade Ban on Ivory

By on July 25, 2015 with 26 Comments
Breaking News: Obama Announces Landmark Commercial Trade Ban on Ivory

With Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Barack Obama announced that the United States will take urgently needed steps to curtail wildlife trafficking and address the devastating elephant poaching crisis, issuing a proposed rule that will establish a near-complete ban on the commercial ivory trade in America. The president made his remarks just minutes ago in . . . 

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Korea Dog Meat Trade Survivors Settle Down in Forever Homes

By on July 23, 2015 with 2 Comments
Korea Dog Meat Trade Survivors Settle Down in Forever Homes

In January, I shared the story of 23 dogs who managed to make it out of a dog meat farm in South Korea – which, for all of the other dogs who’ve ever met the fate of being caught up and caged in such a facility, has always been a dead end. For these dogs, the story . . . 

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Time for Federal Anti-Cruelty Statute

By on July 22, 2015 with 5 Comments
Time for Federal Anti-Cruelty Statute

Today, our federal legislative priorities gained even sharper focus with the introduction of the Senate version of the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, advanced by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. This bill, introduced in the U.S. House as H.R. 2293 by Representatives Lamar Smith, R-Tex., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Tom . . . 

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New York Blood Center Just the Latest Threat to Chimps

By on July 21, 2015 with 5 Comments
New York Blood Center Just the Latest Threat to Chimps

Today, Kathleen Conlee, our vice president of Animal Research Issues, was in New York with Dr. Brian Hare, Change.org petition starter, Amanda Ketterer, a youth representative of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, and other HSUS staff to deliver petitions signed by more than 185,000 people, asking the New York Blood Center (NYBC) to reinstate . . . 

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Putting a Stop to Doping Horses and Fixing Races

By on July 20, 2015 with 11 Comments
Putting a Stop to Doping Horses and Fixing Races

There is cause for hope that Congress may finally do something to impose some standards on horse racing and empower a non-governmental, independent organization to stop the widespread race-day doping of horses – a contributing factor to perhaps as many as 24 horses dying every week on American racetracks. Last week, on behalf of a . . . 

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