The brutal slaying of the Zimbabwean big cat has sparked outrage around the world, with many celebrities voicing their devastation online.
Cecil was Zimbabwe’s most beloved lion and considered to be the star attraction of the Hwange National Park.
Reports claim American dentist Walter Palmer was the man responsible for luring out the 13-year-old animal from his sanctuary before shooting him with a bow and arrow.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) explained that Cecil was tracked for 40 hours before he was killed. Walter, who paid $USD50 thousand to hunt the well-loved animal, maintains that he thought the hunt was "legal".
"Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn't kill him," the charity alleged.
"They tracked him down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun."
American late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel honoured Cecil by dedicating the show’s monologue to him. Addressing the camera, Jimmy choked up while discussing Cecil’s killing during his broadcast Tuesday night and called it a “disgusting tragedy.”
“I think it is important for some good to come out of this disgusting tragedy,” he said. The funnyman went on to urge people to donate to the wildlife preservation group who had previously been keeping track of the lion, by visiting wildcru.org.
Animal lover and comedian Ricky Gervais led the tributes on Twitter and shared a picture of a majestic lion, writing: "RIP #CecilTheLion I'm struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this."
Former Spice Girl and all-round animal lover, Geri Halliwell followed suit, sharing an old photo of herself kissing a lion cub. "I love lions, met this cat many yrs ago. One of the most memorable moments of my life #cecil the lion," she shared with her 372 thousand twitter fans.
Joining the celebrated Brit and voicing their grief was Charmed's Alyssa Milano and The Vampire Diaries' Ian Somerhalder, who wondered why anyone would kill a lion. Both actors have strong ties with animal welfare with Alyssa being a spokeswoman for PETA and Ian running his own charity, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which also plays focus on animal protection.
Alyssa tweeted: “This a**. Why would anyone want to kill a lion for fun? What is wrong with people?”
While Ian echoed the actress’ sentiment : “What a loss... Why would you anyone do this?”
Sharon Osbourne didn’t hold back her disdain for Walter and tweeted, “I don’t know how anyone could go to this man for dental services after this. He is a killer. Beware!”
Model, Cara Delevingne was also candid, posting: "This #WalterPalmer is a poor excuse of a human being!"
While the dentist, who is now in hiding, has released a statement that said: "To my knowledge, everything about this trip 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 deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
At this point, no legal charges have been made against Walter, while authorities in Zimbabwe are reportedly looking to extradite him. As for the two men that helped him, they’ve been arrested and faced court on poaching charges. If convicted, both men face up to 15 years in prison.
A chorus of other notable celebrities have expressed their disgust, with many calling for action.
Among those is the absolutely fabulous, Joanna Lumley. The British comedienne and icon spoke on UK breakfast show, This Morning.
"It's so shocking, and [has] shocked, quite rightly, everybody in the world. What it also has brought a focus on, is how many wild animals we do continue to kill for fun… it's absolutely horrifying. They have a right to live. This lion had a right to live."
Scroll down to see the celebrities who reacted to the heinous acts
Watch Jimmy Kimmel’s impassioned speech in the video player above.