ben lieu song/flickr

After Cecil the Lion’s death, 13 airlines ban the shipment of trophy animals

The death of Cecil the lion sparked major airline policy changes.


Marisa Kabas


Published Aug 4, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 5:45 am CDT

Cecil the Lion may have left this world, but his fighting spirt lives on.

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In response to the 13-year-old lion’s untimely death, the public has successfully pressured a growing list of major airlines to stop the transport of trophy animals killed abroad. 

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On Monday night, American Airlines became the thirteenth major airline to stop aiding the business of killing big game for sport.

With this move, American joined Delta and United in stopping the shipment of trophy animals. A statement issued by Delta earlier on Monday said the following:

Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight.  Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species. Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.

The moves by these airlines—as well as Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, South African Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, British Airways—were sparked by the killing of Cecil the lion in early July. The big cat lived in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park until he was killed by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer

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Cecil’s death rocked animal lovers to their cores. Even Jimmy Kimmel got emotional about it. 

So, are the airlines only banning the shipment of trophy animals to make themselves look good? Maybe! Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry consultant, told USA Today. “I don’t think there was much of this shipment taking place, so there is minimal revenue loss and big PR gain for them,” he said

Still, sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

Photo via ben lieu song/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Aug 4, 2015, 1:47 pm CDT