Cecil the lion, the victim of a July hunting murder in Zimbabwe, is being honored by Animal Planet with a full day of lion-related programming Aug. 10.
Although none of the shows are about Cecil, Animal Planet hopes the 12-hour marathon, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on World Lion Day, will raise awareness about the magnificent creatures whose numbers are declining around the world, and also highlight the horrors of big game trophy hunting. See the full schedule below.
The 13-year-old Cecil was a major tourist attraction in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve. According to reports, scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University had been following Cecil’s movements via GPS tracker since 2008.
The Internet went nuts in late July after news spread about Cecil’s July 1 death. A Minnesota dentist, Walter J. Palmer, reportedly paid $54,000 for the right to kill Cecil. He admitted to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he killed Cecil, but said he believed the hunt was legal. Palmer has now become the target of Internet scorn and vandalism both at his Bloomington office and Florida home, according to The New York Times.
The New York Times has reported that the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said the lion was shot with a crossbow after being lured out of the sanctuary by hunters. The arrow only injured Cecil, reports say, and he was tracked for about two days before being killed with a gun. He was beheaded and his skinned corpse was left to rot, conservationists told the Times.
Animal Planet’s campaign, animalsarenottrophies.com, has been established to be used as a resource for people who want to take action against big game trophy hunting and poaching, two issues that are endangering not only lions but other majestic wild animals. The World Lion Day marathon, the network said in a release, will help shine light on the issue.
World Lion Day schedule
Last Lion of Liuwa
This story is told through the eyes of a predator of the Liuwa plain—the last remaining lioness of Liuwa. She is the sole survivor of a senseless massacre that took the lives of the rest of her pride.
Big Cat Diary
6 a.m.-9 a.m.
In this series, Animal Planet tracks the day-to-day lives of big cats that roam the Mara wildlife community in Africa, including lions, cheetahs and leopards.
Otis from Animal Planet’s “Into the Pride.” (Animal Planet)
Cleo from Animal Planet’s “Into the Pride.” (Animal Planet)
Animal Planet’s large predator expert Dave Salmoni
Brutus from Animal Planet’s “Into the Pride.”
Shizzle and Manizzle from Animal Planet’s “Into the Pride.” (Animal Planet)
Into the Lion’s Den
9 a.m.-11 a.m.
Follow Animal Planet’s large predator expert Dave Salmoni on an adrenaline-pumping trek deep into the territory of a pride of wild lions. Dave claims that lions are more likely to accept people than to attack them, and in this program, he’s putting his life on the line to prove it.
Into the Pride
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Animal Planet’s large predator expert Dave Salmoni heads deep into the African bush on a double mission: to return to his wild roots and to help save a rogue pride of lions from elimination.
A Lion called Christian
This special tells the story behind the “Christian the Lion” Internet phenomenon, which highlighted the emotional reunion among two young men and their 300-pound captive lion a year after Christian was released into the African wild.