How the internet descended on the man who killed Cecil the lion

  • 29 July 2015
A parody Twitter account for Walter Palmer's dental practice has been set up to mock the dentist
Image caption A parody Twitter account has been set up to mock Mr Palmer

Social-media users have gone into overdrive in an attempt to shame the man who has admitted to killing Cecil the lion.

There was a global outcry when Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, admitted to killing Zimbabwe's most famous lion on a hunting trip. He has now been swamped with abuse and dark humour from web users around the world.

Hundreds of - predominantly one-star - reviews have appeared on the Google page for Palmer's dental practice. "Coward" and "Bloodthirsty trophy hunter", they say. "He lured me into his dental practice, then shot me with a bow and arrow," another jokes. The same is happening on Yelp, despite the best efforts of the site to cull the bogus reviews. "Yelp, keep deleting... I'll keep reposting... I have ALL DAY," reads one, adding: "shame on you Walter Palmer". The Facebook page for his practice suffered a similar fate, before being shut down.

Image caption This tweet from a parody account used a real picture taken outside Mr Palmer's practice

A parody Twitter account was created in the name of Palmer's practice - River Bluff Dental - to mock the dentist, and fooled members of the baying mob. "Less negativity! More positivity please!" read one tweet, accompanied with a #LionsLivesMatter hashtag. "Are you trying to make light of the death of a legendary lion?" asked one of many users who thought the account was real.

Now a petition demanding "Justice for Cecil", created prior to Palmer's admission and requesting the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, stop issuing hunting licences, has now soared past 300,000 signatures. Recent signatories are directing their ire at the dentist, regardless. "Make an example of this dentist," wrote one British signatory.

The hashtag #CecilTheLion has appeared almost 250,000 times in the past 24 hours on Twitter, as the topic trended worldwide. A single tweet from Ricky Gervais has been retweeted and favourited more than 40,000 times.

The comedian has long been is a vocal supporter of animal rights, on the social network. In April, he tweeted an image of Rebecca Francis, who hosts an American television programme called Eye of the Hunter, lying next to a dying giraffe. Both Francis and Palmer have received a slew of death threats on social media.

The dentist said he had not realised Cecil had been a "local favourite" and now "regrets" killing the the lion, adding that to his knowledge everything about the trip had been legal and properly handled and conducted.

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