The US dentist who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has apologised... to his patients for the anger directed at him.

In a letter sent to his patients on Tuesday, Mr Palmer said:

To my valued patients: As you may have already heard, I have been in the news over the last few days for reasons that have nothing to do with my profession or the care I provide for you.

The media interest in this matter — along with a substantial number of comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general — has disrupted our business and our ability to see our patients... For that disruption, I apologise profoundly for this inconvenience and promise you that we will do our best to resume normal operations as soon as possible.

Palmer also repeated the claim that he didn't know Cecil was a "local favourite" and as far as he was aware the hunt was legal in a statement he made to media on Tuesday.

His practice in Minnesota has been closed since he was named as tourist who paid £32,000 to lure Zimbabwe’s most famous lion out of national park land and shoot it with a crossbow.

It shut its doors after protesters put up posters and toy animal tributes outside and the website and phone line were inundated with messages from angry vigilantes.

The Associated Press reports that the two Zimbabwean men who accompanied Palmer on the hunt have been arrested, and Palmer himself is also wanted on poaching charges in the country.

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