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Report: Arizona group suspends Minnesota dentist that killed famous lion

In this frame grab taken from a November 2012 video made available by Paula French, a well-known, protected lion known as Cecil strolls around in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean police said Tuesday, July 28, 2015 they are searching for Walter James Palmer, an American who allegedly shot Cecil with a crossbow while on a big game hunt in a killing that has outraged conservationists and others. (Paula French via AP)

PHOENIX — An Arizona-based group has reportedly suspended the membership of a Minnesota dentist who killed a famous lion and rankled millions online.

Tucson News Now reported Safari Club International suspended Walter Palmer’s membership indefinitely on Thursday.

SCI told the agency Palmer’s suspension — along with that of his guide — was pending the outcome of a “full and thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.”

Palmer, an avid hunter, paid thousands of dollars to kill a lion during a trip to the African nation earlier this month. Though he claims he was told it was a legal hunt, officials allege Palmer and his group lured the lion from a protected wildlife preserve using a dead animal tied to a car. Palmer wounded the lion with a bow and arrow. The group then tracked the animal for about 40 hours before killing it with a gun.

Palmer’s guide, professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst, and a local farm owner were arrested in the lion’s death. Bronkhorst was released on $1,000 bail. The other man was not charged.

The lion, nicknamed Cecil, was famous in Hwange National Park. Tourists paid guides to find the creature, who appeared to be comfortable around humans. He was also part of an Oxford University study.

After news of Cecil’s death was made public, Palmer was villainized by millions online. He was forced to go into hiding and temporarily shutter his practice in Bloomington, Minn., where hundreds of protesters gathered Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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