Walter Palmer, who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, has apologized to his patients in Minnesota for the disruption caused by the anger directed at him.
His dental practice in Minneapolis has been closed since the dentist was named as the tourist who shot Cecil, Zimbabwe’s most famous lion.
Two Zimbabwean men have been charged over the death and local police say Walter Palmer may also face poaching charges.
The American dentist says he thought the hunt was legal and was unaware Cecil was protected.
In a letter sent to his “valued” patients on July 28, Walter Palmer said he had been in the news “for reasons that have nothing to do with my profession or the care I provide for you”.
He described himself as a “life-long hunter” but said he rarely discussed his passion with patients “because it can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic”.
Echoing an earlier statement, Walter Palmer insisted that he thought the hunt was legal and said he would assist authorities in Zimbabwe or the US in their inquiries.
Walter Palmer is said to have shot and injured the animal with a bow and arrow. The wounded lion was not found until 40 hours later, when he was shot dead with a gun.
The lion was later skinned and beheaded, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), a local charity.
The animal had a GPS collar fitted for a research project by Oxford University that allowed authorities to track its movements. The hunters had tried to destroy it but failed, according to the ZCTF.
Walter Palmer’s dental practice has closed its website and social media accounts since his identity was revealed after thousands of people flooded them with angry comments.
A protest was held outside the building on July 29.
About 100 protesters, both adults and children, stood around holding posters that had messages like “Justice for Cecil”, “Trophy hunters are cowards” and “Prosecute poachers”.
Protesters chanted “Extradite! Extradite!” Walter Palmer was nowhere to be seen.
Two women from the Minneapolis-based Animals Rights Coalition said they organized the protest to raise awareness about animal cruelty.
On July 29, professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst pleaded not guilty to a charge of “failing to prevent an unlawful hunt” at a court in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.
Theo Bronkhorst was granted bail of $1,000 and ordered to appear in court again on August 5. His co-accused – farm owner Honest Ndlovu – will appear at a later date.
Walter Palmer is believed to have paid about $50,000 to go on the hunt in Zimbabwe.
He is well known in the American hunting community. In 2006, he was found guilty of killing a black bear outside an authorized zone in the state of Wisconsin and lying to authorities about it. He was fined $3,000.
Walter Palmer has visited Zimbabwe for hunting trips in the past and one image posted online in 2010 shows him posing with a leopard he killed.