Jimmy Kimmel Gets Emotional Talking About Cecil the Lion

Kimmel responds to news of an American dentist who killed lion on hunting trip.

ByABC News
July 29, 2015, 11:13 AM

— -- It's not often Jimmy Kimmel gets choked up, but on Tuesday night, the comedian did just that while talking about the recent killing of a beloved lion named Cecil.

The late-night talk show host was responding to the recent news that Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer admitted to killing the well-known and protected 13-year-old lion, who was part of a longtime Oxford University research project, during a recent hunting trip to Zimbabwe.

Palmer released a statement Tuesday saying that to his knowledge everything about the hunt was "legal and properly handled and conducted."

"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. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have," he said.

But Kimmel wasn't buying it.

"First of all, stop saying you took the animal! You take aspirin! You killed the lion! You didn't take it!" Kimmel said. "Let's say we accept at face value that he thought it was legal and properly handled and didn't know the lion had a tracking collar and was a local favorite. The big question is: Why are you shooting a lion in the first place?"

Kimmel continued, "If you're hunting to eat or to help keep the animal population healthy or it's part of your culture or something, that's one thing, but if you're some A-hole dentist who wants a lion's head over the fireplace in his man cave so his d******** buddies can gather around it and drink scotch and tell him how awesome he is, that's just vomitus."

The host then showed several photos of Palmer posing next to animals he killed, including a bear, lion, leopard and rhino. Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he shot and killed in Wisconsin outside of an authorized hunting zone.

"He killed like half of Noah's Ark," the comedian joked. "I don't get it."

More seriously, Kimmel said starting a witch-hunt for the dentist, who hasn't been seen at his home or office since he released his statement, is not the answer.

"It should be handled in a lawful way. And the men who took him out in the Jeep should be made accountable, too, but in the meantime, I think it's important to have some good come out of this disgusting tragedy," Kimmel said.

While sharing the link to the website for the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford, the comedian held back tears.

"If you want to do something -- if you want to make this into a positive, you can, uh, sorry," he said, getting choked up. "OK, I'm good. Make a donation. Support them. At the very least, maybe we can show the world that not all Americans are like this jack-hole here."