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Lion Hunter's Dentist Office Reopens, Without Dr. Palmer

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) - Caught in the middle of a global firestorm, some of Dr. Walter Palmer's dental associates tried to get back to work today.

Palmer is still in hiding, although a British newspaper, the Telegraph, reportedly tracked him down in Minnesota.

It published what it said were the first photos taken of Palmer since he admitted killing Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe last month.

For weeks, the River Bluff Dental office has been shut down, with protesters and photographers coming and going.

Now the protest signs have been removed from the office of "Dr. Palmer and Associates," as some of the associates try to get back to work.

In a statement, the staff said "Today, River Bluff Dental employees and dentists are beginning to serve our loyal patients. Dr. Palmer is not on site. Our employees have no comment."

Several people driving by, though, had plenty to say.

Brenda Spencer of Rosemount fought back tears as she spoke of Palmer.

"We're all just wondering where is he," she said. "Why isn't somebody doing something? Why isn't he being prosecuted?"

Nick Marentic and his wife, Colleen Connolly, have attended two protests over Cecil's death, and said they're prepared to protest again.

"He needs to know, and also other big game trophy hunters need to know, this isn't going to go away," Marentic said. "The thing they call a sport is not a sport."

A private security guard was stationed outside to keep any demonstrators and reporters at a distance.

Across the street, a couple of bystanders, Kurt Joly and Chris Gara, sympathized with the other staff members.

"It seems that a lot of these animal activists will spend more of their time worrying about an animal instead of human deaths," said Joly.

"It's too much," said Gara. "They need to let it go."

The statement from the office gave no indication of when, or if, Palmer would return to this office.

In the meantime, Allison Melton, of Seattle, and her mother, Garlanda Melton, of Houston, made River Bluff Dental the final tourist stop of their vacation.

"We were talking about the guy who killed the lion and the Internet sensation and realized we were in the same town," Allison Melton said.

"This is sort of on our way, the last hurrah for Minneapolis," said Garlanda Melton.

Bloomington Police have a remote security camera in the clinic's parking lot, to keep an eye on people coming and going throughout the day.

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