Jimmy Kimmel Looks For Positive In Cecil The Lion's Death

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An emotional Jimmy Kimmel had some strong words for Walter Palmer, a U.S. sport hunter, practicing dentist and lion-killer, in the monologue of last night's Jimmy Kimmel Live episode.

Palmer has become one of the internet's great villains in recent days for hunting and killing a lion named Cecil outside the protected Hwange national park in Zimbabwe. Cecil, a sort of animal celebrity at Hwange, was the leader of his lion pride and a GPS-collared research subject who's every movement was tracked by the Wild Conservation Research Unit at Oxford.

It's believed Palmer and his hunting guides lured Cecil out of Hwange by tying a dead bait animal carcass to their vehicle, which he followed out of the protected territory. Palmer next wounded the lion with an arrow, tracked it for 40 hours, shot and killed it with a gun, then skinned and beheaded Cecil. Palmer is alleged to have paid $50,000 US to do this.

Kimmel was not kind in his analysis of Palmer's actions.

"Why are you shooting a lion in the first place?" Kimmel asked. "I'm honestly curious to know why a human being would feel compelled to do that? How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things that are stronger than you?"

Kimmel then threw more shade at Palmer while clarifying that he isn't anti-hunting.

"By the way, I'm not against hunting," Kimmel continued. "If you're hunting to eat or help keep the animal population healthy or it's part of your culture or something that's one thing, but if you're some a-hole dentist who wants some lion's head over the fireplace in his man cave so his douchebag buddies can gather around it and drink scotch and tell him how awesome he is, that's just vomitous."

The late-night show host didn't just heap scorn on Palmer, though. He also made a constructive suggestion:

"In the meantime I think it's important that some good come out of this disgusting tragedy," Kimmel said, who, near tears, had to pause to compose himself before introducing the Wild Conservation Research Unit. "These are the researchers that put the collar on Cecil in the first place. They track the animals and study them. If you want to do something, if you want to make this into a positive, you can make a donation, support them, at the very least maybe we can show the world not all Americans are like this jackhole here."

Kimmel's suggestion could go a long way to ensuring future Cecil the lions don't suffer similar fates.

WildCRU's stated goal is "to tackle the emerging biodiversity crisis and wider environmental issues by bridging the gap between academic theory and practical problem solving."

In a lengthy statement on the WildCRU website they explained the work they do, what their donations go towards. And, by extension, how that money helps protect the animals they research.

"Cecil's apparently illegal death is tragic, but many people have asked us if any good can come of it," the statement read. "First, it is amazing that this episode has heightened awareness of lion conservation worldwide. Supporting conservation is the purpose of our work – conservation involves huge challenges, both in the science and the practice, and we are deeply grateful for the public interest and support. Second, people have asked if they can support our work through donations – the answer is yes, urgently, and we rely entirely on philanthropy. Donations could support the purchase of more satellite tracking collars, support of our field vehicles and field staff, also, very importantly; we train wonderful young Zimbabwean conservationists, bringing some of them to Oxford on scholarships for world-class training in conservation.

"We are a team of world-class professionals, and our equipment and operating costs, working under challenging conditions, is expensive. People have asked how much this work costs. It costs us approximately £150,000 pa to maintain the lion project at its current level of excellence, and in reality we need to expand it, to study and conserve lions over the entire landscape that spans western Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. We can do this only if we secure funds. To give you an idea, each satellite collar costs about £1,500, with an annual fee to download the hourly locations from the satellite of £500. We need £20,000 pa to keep our anti-poaching team in the field, cutting illegal snare wires. To bring a Zimbabwean student to study conservation in Oxford on our world-renowned Diploma course costs £15,000. We need four wheel-drive vehicles, tyres for them, fuel to run them – so no donation is too small to be helpful."

As of today professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and farm owner Honest Ndlovu have been charged with poaching offences and for not having the required hunting permit. Palmer, who said in a statement that he believed he was on a legal hunt, has returned to America and has yet been charged with any crime.

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