Couple poses for romantic photo with lion they shot and killed, horrifying animal rights activists

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A Canadian couple who went on a recent hunting trip in South Africa horrified animal rights activists after posting a photo of themselves kissing behind a lion they had just shot and killed.

The image of Darren and Carolyn Carter, who own Solitude Taxidermy in Alberta, was posted on the Legelela Safaris Facebook page. It is unclear if this was the same safari the couple was on when they shot and killed the lion.

Legelela Safaris appears to have disabled their Facebook page, so the original post is no longer visible. The couple also disabled their company’s Facebook and Instagram page, as well as its website.

The image of them kissing with their trophy kill went viral after being picked up by the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, which called the couple “sick” and the image “horrifying.” The newspaper called “for an end to the barbaric practice of trophy hunting,” and urged U.K. lawmakers to put an immediate ban on the import of hunting trophies.

PETA responded to the image with a renewed call for bans on trophy hunting. “The vast majority of people oppose trophy hunting. We must continue to make our voices heard and force businesses and lawmakers to listen,” PETA wrote on its website. The group asked supporters to urge the United States Postal Service to stop importing hunting trophies. 

Trophy hunting occurs in at least 63 countries, over one-third of them on the African continent. Places like Zimbabwe have long been popular destinations for American hunters, who spend thousands of dollars for the chance to shoot iconic species. Around 80% of all trophy hunters worldwide are Americans, and in 2017 alone, 650,000 animal “trophies” were imported into the U.S.

Trophy hunters defend the practice as a way to manage wildlife populations and infuse revenue into the host countries’ economies to support conservation efforts. But photos of hunters with their trophies have repeatedly sparked outrage. An American woman, Tess Talley, set off a storm of anger last summer when she posted a photo with a giraffe she killed in South Africa. She later told CBS News she was “proud to hunt” and had no regrets.

The photo of the Carters posing with their prize was reminiscent of the photo of Cecil the Lion, who was shot and killed in Zimbabwe in 2015. The photo with American trophy hunter and dentist Walter Palmer went viral, and he was the target of widespread backlash for killing the beloved lion that lived in a protected area.

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