I feel bad for Cecil the lion. I feel bad for the local people in Zimbabwe whom this impacts most. And I feel bad for the local and global firestorm of anger and meanness that this whole situation has created, which is stoked by social media and sensational “journalism” (“Dentist’s lion kill sets off global outcry,” July 29).
If you think this is a bad situation, do something about it — something positive and constructive. This isn’t about one individual. All of the public outcry and anger could ruin an individual, but does nothing for Cecil nor for global conservation. What if we turned the anger and rhetoric into action and support for worthy scientific research and strategic conservation? What if we supported efforts to protect flagship species like large cats, which also would protect their native habitats and the many species that share their landscapes?
I personally know good people who work with two organizations that are dedicated to using sound science to learn more about large cats and to implement effective conservation strategies: the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota (www.cbs.umn.edu/research/labs/lionresearch) and Panthera (www.panthera.org/about). Please consider putting your money where your mouth (or social media post) is and support these organizations (or some other related and reputable organizations of your choice).
Let’s stop the meanness, name-calling and hate. Let’s stop dividing and separating ourselves into opposing sides on every topic. Let’s work together to make a positive change. Let’s work together to protect and conserve nature — and ourselves.
Lars Erdahl, Minnetrista
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I am writing from Bristol, England, to let you know that the killing of Cecil the lion by your local dentist, Dr. Walter Palmer, has brought deep shame on America in general and your community in particular. It is difficult for me, living many thousands of miles away, to convey the anger people are feeling at this despicable act. I have rarely known such anger and sadness.
As you know, people of the United Kingdom greatly respect our special relationship with our American friends and, of course, we do not believe that Dr. Palmer is in any way representative of the regular U.S. citizen. But I do hope that you, as a much-respected newspaper, get it across to your readers our utter contempt for what he has done.
Rick Johansen, Bristol, England
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1. It’s one of the best examples of media bias we’ve recently seen. Simply contrast “Lion is poached outside of Zimbabwe game preserve” with “Rich American dentist murders beloved Cecil the lion.” They’re doing a stunning job of programming the response with that title. Like, the best ever.
2. The punishment has to fit the crime. An animal was poached. Nothing more, nothing less. Does the guy really deserve to lose his entire livelihood for it? If he did indeed knowingly poach a lion (we’ll likely never know), he should be punished with whatever fees, license revocation, etc., are on the books. We are in agreement with that and I am strongly against poaching. Isn’t that what you’d want for yourself if you were convicted of a crime?
3. Cecil is still a lion. The media wants you to believe that Cecil was stolen from a petting zoo in the middle of the night while children were using him as a pillow. He’s a lion. When his dominance is threatened, he eats lion cubs alive. His favorite thing to do is to tear flesh from zebras while they are still breathing. Please stop picturing him as a fuzzy stuffed animal.
4. If you really do feel this strongly about poaching, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources publishes a weekly report that lists the names of poachers. This fall there will be many. You will be very busy smearing the names of these people. If you do not plan on doing that, why are you so filled with hate toward Dr. Walter Palmer? All human life is equal, and all animal life is equal. You should be just as angry with John Doe who poached a black bear in northern Minnesota as you are about Cecil the lion.
5. If you posted on Yelp trying to destroy this man’s career and livelihood, I think you need a vacation and some time to relax. Many people who posted there are literally calling for Dr. Palmer’s death. If you’re over there screaming with that freaky “Lord of the Flies” mob, I’m far more scared of you than I ever could be of Dr. Palmer.
Clint Carlson, Minneapolis
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Where was the outrage when President Mugabe celebrated his 91st birthday this year with a feast, according to Human Rights Watch, that included a lion, elephants, buffaloes, sables and impalas? I do not understand the lure of hunting, especially big-game hunting. But the response to the killing of Cecil the lion seems myopic.
Zimbabwe’s human rights record is atrocious. Its people live in dire poverty. Our outrage should be directed to those who hold Zimbabwe in fear. Our support, both financial and moral, should go to Zimbabwe’s civil society leaders who risk their lives advocating for human rights and fighting corruption.
Westerners love to romanticize Africa and its wildlife with little knowledge of the individual nations and cultures. Supporting the people of Zimbabwe who are trying to improve human rights for their compatriots will do more to protect the people and their ability to manage their own wildlife than the current wave of public shaming.
Holly Ziemer, Edina
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I have wondered why, when a person is shot, we say he was “killed” or, depending on intent, “murdered,” but when an animal is shot we say it was “taken” or “harvested.”
Steven White, Minneapolis
Here’s a simple formula to help you add up the excess sweetness
In the article on the Opinion Exchange page July 29 regarding the labeling of sugar on the products we eat and drink (“The FDA is making a muddle of nutrition labeling”), it mentioned that we should be more concerned about sugar intake than fat and carbohydrates. Sugar is in everything, and it is one of the major causes of obesity and illness. There is an easy way to translate the sugar grams listed into how much that really is in terms of sugar consumption. Simply divide the number of grams of sugar listed by 4, which equals one teaspoon of sugar. If your Mountain Dew lists 49 grams of sugar, that is over 12 teaspoons of sugar in a serving. Most products contain more than one serving, which is 8 ounces. So imagine sitting down and putting 12 or more teaspoons of sugar into a bowl and eating it. Doesn’t sound quite as appealing. Certainly, it can’t be very healthy!
Harvey Weiss, Brooklyn Park
By canceling ‘Wits’ program, MPR shows its true colors
In Tuesday’s paper we find MPR or its parent company is canceling the entertaining Saturday night show “Wits” (“Public radio is losing its ‘Wits,’ July 28). The plain facts are that public radio begs for money! We give them money. They make their goals. Then they just do what they want no matter what the public in public radio wants! You like “Wits”? Too bad. In this case, there isn’t even a budget shortfall; the program just isn’t making a ton of money. I say “so what”? We give them money for programming! “Wits” shouldn’t have to make a nickel! I’m tired of MPR sounding and acting like a commercial radio station. I’m one of the public in public radio and I like “Wits”! When will the listening public wise up to MPR and its bait and switch? Give to keep programing on the air and then — goodbye, program. Enough.
Larry Ripp, St. Paul