Dr. Walter Palmer shocked the world this week when it was revealed that he killed Cecil the Lion, a beloved mainstay at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Then he shocked it again when it was revealed how much disposable income dentists have. Before long, people were thinking clearly again and they began asking questions about this unsightly episode, like: Why has this story of wanton lionicide exploded into an international news story?
The answer probably has something to do with the lion being a celebrity, at least to those who read lion tabloids. But it’s still curious considering the other stories of lion murder that have been told in recent years. In particular, there’s Paul Broun’s. The former Republican representative for Georgia’s tenth congressional district and 2014 senatorial candidate not only killed a lion, but he ate it.
The fist mention of Broun’s story we could find is in a 2010 Roll Call video in which he takes viewers on a tour of his office, which is decorated like an animal graveyard. Among his trophies are a Kodiak brown bear, eland, water buffalo, and yes, a lion. Unlike Dr. Palmer, Broun says he ate the lion.
“After eating this animal, the natives called me boss shumba. They’d never seen a guy come and actually eat a lion. It’s not very good. But it’s part of my hunting ethic. If I’m going to shoot it, I’m going to eat it,” he says in the video.
On one hand, there’s something noble about that hunting ethic — at least he’s not letting the meat go to waste. On the other hand, there’s something ridiculous about it. Taking a bite of the lion doesn’t mean the animal wasn’t killed for sport: It just means you’ve come up with a way to justify your trophy hunting.
Why didn’t anyone care about Broun’s story when it came out? A bunch of reasons, probably. For one, Cecil the lion was apparently killed illegally, while there’s no reason to think that was the case with Broun’s quarry. Another could be timing. The story of Cecil’s death hit in 2015, five years after Broun told his, and we’re much better at social-media shaming now than we were when Twitter was just a toddler. Lastly, it could be that Broun was such an unrepentant nut-job — he once said, “Evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell” — that no one had the energy to get riled up about it.