Why I'm Glad Cecil the Lion Is Dead

Goodwell Nzou says Cecil wasn't 'beloved,' he was a terror
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2015 12:03 PM CDT
Why I'm Glad Cecil the Lion Is Dead
Cecil strolls around in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe in 2012.   (Paula French via AP)

Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer may regret killing Cecil the Lion during an apparently illegal hunt in Zimbabwe, but at least one person is relieved there's one less lion on the prowl. Goodwell Nzou, a Zimbabwe native studying in the US, says he had no idea who Cecil was when friends began texting him their condolences after the animal's death. When he realized they were referring to a lion, "the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine," he writes at the New York Times. Jimmy Kimmel and others may have thought they were condemning the killing of a "local favorite," Nzou writes, but "in my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror."

Nzou remembers a lion stalking the area around his home when he was a child. His father and brothers took his mom to collect firewood "armed with machetes, axes and spears," he says. No one played or socialized outside. "When the lion was finally killed, no one cared whether its murderer was a local person or a white trophy hunter, whether it was poached or killed legally. We danced and sang about the vanquishing of the fearsome beast." While many wild animals hold "near-mystical significance" to Zimbabweans, "our respect for these animals has never kept us from hunting them or allowing them to be hunted," Nzou says. The outrage over Cecil's death—though no fuss was made when a baby elephant was reportedly killed for Zimbabwe's president's birthday dinner—shows "Americans care more about African animals than about African people." Read Nzou's full column. (More lions stories.)

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