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Thousands petition White House to extradite Cecil's killer

More than a hundred thousand people are asking the White House to extradite Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer to Zimbabwe to face justice for hunting and killing a lion known as Cecil this week.

The petition on WhiteHouse.gov says, "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 White House has said it will respond to any petition that reaches 100,000 signatures within 30 days. The petition to extradite Palmer was published on July 28 and had more than 143,000 signatures as of 4 p.m. on July 30.

Palmer - who allegedly paid $55,000 for the hunt - shot the lion with a bow and arrow, then stalked the Cecil for another 40 hours before the lion was finished off with a rifle shot. Two local hunters have already appeared in court to face charges of poaching because they allegedly lured the lion out of the Hwange National Park, a game reserve.

But Palmer has defended his actions and said he believed the hunt was conducted legally.

"I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt," he said in a statement released Tuesday. "I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."

A Justice Department official told CBS News Correspondent Paula Reid that it is "aware of the situation" and that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is "looking into the facts" around the case.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.