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Dentist Won't Be Charged In Zimbabwe Over Cecil The Lion's Death

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Officials in Zimbabwe say Dr. Walter Palmer did not break the country's hunting laws.

This means top government officials are no longer pressing for the Twin Cities dentist to be extradited to Zimbabwe for killing Cecil the lion. Leaders in Zimbabwe say Palmer is welcome to come back as a tourist, but not as a hunter.

It appeared to be back to business as usual outside Dr. Walter Palmer's dental practice in Bloomington Monday afternoon.

It was very different from the crowds that spent days protesting, some vandalizing, when Palmer was identified as the American who killed a well-known lion called Cecil in a bow hunt.

"Right away in the beginning there were just like a ton of protestors there and then died down for a while. And then the last couple of weeks we would get people coming through once a week," Heidi Nephew, who lives near Palmer's Bloomington dentist office, said.

She says the media storm and protests caused a nuisance for everyone in the area.

"They would block people and want you to honk your horns," Nephew said.

For weeks, Palmer was nowhere to be found until he returned to work last month. All the while, Zimbabwe's government said it was working to bring Palmer back to face poaching charges.

Then on Monday morning, authorities cleared Palmer of all wrongdoing, saying he came to Zimbabwe because all of his papers were in order.

"You felt bad for the people that lived here and the employees at the dentist's office," Nephew said.

Heidi hopes with Zimbabwe's government announcing an end to the investigation, this peace and quiet will last.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was handling a U.S. investigation into Palmer, hasn't announced anything new since the investigation came to an end in Zimbabwe.

Palmer has maintained his innocence since being accused of poaching. Palmer's paid guide has been charged with failing to prevent an illegal hunt. He faces up to 15 years in jail. His lawyer has asked a judge to drop the charges, saying they are too vague.

Through an adviser, Palmer declined comment.

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