Thanks to a White House petition quickly gaining signatures, the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion may be extradited to the African nation where he shot the beloved creature on a hunting trip earlier this month.
The response to the petition has surpassed its threshold and gathered thousands more signatures than required to receive a reply from the Obama administration.
In need of at least 100,000 signatures by Aug. 27 to get a response, the petition, “Extradite Minnesotan Walter James Palmer to face justice in Zimbabwe,” had more than 175,000 signatures by July 31. This means the petition should receive a response from the White House, but it is unclear when that will be, CNN Politics reported. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it is up to the Justice Department to respond to extradition orders, Sky News reported.
The American dentist has not been seen since he was identified as Cecil’s killer on July 28. Following the eruption of international outrage, Palmer and his family have been absent from their Minneapolis home as well as their home in Naples, Florida.
Palmer’s dental practice, which has been a gathering place for protesters, has also been closed since the news of his hunt came out.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is among those searching for Palmer, after announcing that it has begun its own investigation into the Minnesotan. The federal agency took to Twitter saying it “will go where facts lead,” and asking Palmer to contact USFWS immediately. The agency has yet to get in contact with Palmer, reports Daily Mail.
Zimbabwean officials have also made it clear they wish to speak to Palmer. The U.S. embassy has said it was unaware of any extradition request, Sky News reported.
According to the White House petition, the two Zimbabwe locals who assisted Palmer in the hunting and killing of Cecil were arrested. However, they have since been released on bond.
The two men who Palmer allegedly hired have appeared in court on poaching charges. They face up to 15 years if convicted, according to Sky News.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, dailydot.com