Safari Club membership suspended for hunter in lion killing

Artist Mark Balma paints a mural of Cecil, a well-known lion killed by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer during a guided bow hunting trip in Zimbabwe, as part of a silent protest outside Palmer's office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer said that he had no idea the lion he killed was protected and that he relied on the expertise of his local guides to ensure the hunt was legal. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Safari Club International is suspending the membership of the Minnesota hunter accused of illegally killing a protected lion in Zimbabwe and wants a “full and thorough investigation” into the lion’s death.

The club, which promotes big-game hunting worldwide, issued a statement late Wednesday saying memberships for Walter Palmer and his guide in Zimbabwe, Theo Bronkhorst, will be on hiatus until investigations are complete.

Bronkhorst is facing criminal charges in Zimbabwe over the July 1 killing of the beloved lion named Cecil, who was drawn away from a wildlife preserve and shot by Palmer with a bow and arrow. Palmer has said he believed the hunt was legal.

The Safari Club says “those who intentionally take wildlife illegally should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent allowed by law.”

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