The White House said Thursday it will respond to a petition on its website asking U.S. officials to extradite the Minnesota dentist who apologized for killing a popular lion in Zimbabwe.
The petition on the White House’s We the People site, has exceeded the 100,000 signatures required for a response and Press Secretary Josh Earnest said a response will be “forthcoming.”
But Earnest noted that any decision about prosecution or extradition would be made by the Department of Justice.
The petition notes that Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minneapolis, has been identified as the person that took down the lion known as Cecil, described in the petition as a “national icon.” It says Palmer “is alleged to have lured Cecil from the safety of the national park to kill him. Two of Palmer's local accomplices are already in custody. Zimbabwe authorities now actively seeking Palmer in connection with this incident.”
“We urge the Secretary Of State John Kerry and the Attorney General Loretta Lynch to fully cooperate with the Zimbabwe authorities and to extradite Walter Palmer promptly at the Zimbabwe government's request,” the petition states.
Earnest noted the issue of countering illicit wildlife trafficking had been raised during Obama’s trip to Africa over the weekend.
“This is an issue that is a particularly important policy issue in Africa. And so this is something that we're obviously aware of,” Earnest said.