Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who sparked outrage for killing Zimbabwe's Cecil the Lion in July, will not be charged over the animal's death, the country's environment minister announced Monday, according to Reuters.
Palmer legally obtained the proper documentation to visit and hunt in the southern African country, environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters.
“We approached the police and then the prosecutor general, and it turned out that Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
Palmer killed the prized 13-year-old lion in July at Hwange National Park. Palmer and his guides reportedly lured Cecil away from the park and shot him with an arrow that did not immediately kill the lion. The hunters reportedly later killed Cecil with a gun after tracking him for two days.
Palmer reportedly paid his guides $55,000 to help him kill Cecil.
At the time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was looking into the issue and assisting Zimbabwe officials, a spokesperson for the agency said.
After attracting online hate over the animal's death, the dentist said he did not realize the lion he “took” was a “known, local favorite.”
“[Palmer] is free to come [back], not for hunting, but as a tourist,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said, according to Bloomberg.