An Open Letter from Cecil the Lion to Walter Palmer D.D.S.
You imagine yourself as a killer, a real predator. But you are a thin, pink, hairless, primate with too much brain and not enough muscle. Without any real challenges, you took time away from your job fixing the teeth of other humans to fly to my home of Zimbabwe. There you hired some locals to lure me away from the safety of my home, and you shot me with an arrow. I didn’t have a chance. You covered yourself in oils that masked your scent and ambushed me from upwind. Your arrow blasted through muscle and bone, but it didn’t kill me. It would have–eventually. An arrow in the side might kill me later, but if it didn’t the blood loss and infection would set in–if my slowly-dripping blood didn’t attract another predator. You did the noble thing. As I rested in the darkness licking my wounds, you tracked me. As I was suffering the pain of your arrow, you finished the kill with a rifle–not because you wanted to end my suffering, but because you wanted my head and skin.
I understand the need to kill. It’s how I survive. Sometimes I must kill my own kind, be it a rival male or even a lion cub that might grow up to kill or force me away from my pride. I don’t understand killing when it isn’t necessary for survival. You don’t kill because you have to, but because you want to. Maybe it’s fun for you–striking down a creature with a weapon that another man crafted. Perhaps you get a sick thrill from killing. Or, more likely, you do it to look fearless in front of other primates. You pose for photos with the carcass so they may see you and imagine how virile and masculine you are. No doubt you will take a female who is impressed by such things and mate with her on the rug that was once my skin and head.
You might wonder why other humans hate you. Surely there are other killers of animals who should be equally hated, such as those who poach rhinos, elephants, bears, lions, even other primates such as apes and monkeys. All are killed and captured for the desires and enjoyment of humans. Make no mistake, Mr. Palmer, others of your kind hate them too. It’s just that they know your name and face with it’s perfect teeth and a self-satisfied smile. They know your stench.
I wish I had the chance at a fair fight. If you won, imagine the story you could have told others of your kind after winning a battle with a mighty lion! You could have told them how you survived a swipe from my massive paw only to finish me with a thrust of your weapon! But you and I know that’s not how the battle would have ended. One slash would have emptied your entrails and I would have torn the flesh from your bones for hours.
You will never know true strength, but you got to pretend for a while. in the end we all meet the same fate.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see it coming.