COMMENTARY by Kendal Hemphill

Mule Deer Of the Trans Pecos
September 25, 2017
September 25, 2017

Lion for the Cause

N o doubt most TF&G readers will remember Cecil the Lion, the lion that was killed a couple of years ago by a Minnesota dentist named Walter Palmer.

That lion caused pretty much every animal rights activist, social justice warrior, and whining bedwetter in the world to get their socks in a wad, even though the hunt was entirely legal and ethical. That was Cecil the Lion.

If you replace Palmer’s name with ‘Richard Cooke,’ and replace Cecil’s name with “Xanda,” you have pretty much the same story for 2017. (Time to cue the violins, alert the bunny huggers, and fire up the microwave popcorn.) The outrage over Xanda’s death is liable to be even more entertaining than what resulted from Cecil’s demise.

The killing of Cecil the Lion spawned a cottage industry of outrage (thermal shirt, $14.95 plus shipping, at

To begin with, Cooke killed Xanda legally, outside Hwange National Park. He immediately turned in the tracking collar he found around Xanda’s neck.

Andrew Loveridge, who works for the Department of Zoology at Oxford University does a lot of the work with tracking collars in the area. He told the Telegraph that Richard Cooke is “one of the good guys,” meaning he’s ethical and honest about his hunting, and follows all game laws and regulations. Of course, that won’t save him from the hate of those who think hunting is bad for animals, no matter what.

Some usually reliable publications that generally report facts instead of conjecture, are missing the mark on this one. The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro’s baby, is not always right, but makes a valiant effort to offer factual news. DW ran a story about the Xanda hunt under the headline “Cecil The Lion’s Son Killed By Trophy Hunters In Zimbabwe.” Which, I hasten to point out, is a pretty misleading header, and not quite accurate.

For one thing, Xanda wasn’t killed by “trophy hunters.” The lion was killed by one trophy hunter, a fellow named Richard Cooke. The difference is slight, but the plural seems to be an effort to lump a lot of people into one pile.

To most non-hunters, there isn’t any difference between hunters and trophy hunters, nor is there any difference between either of those groups and poachers. We’re all “Bad People” because we hunt.

The other problem with the headline, and by far the greater faux pas, is that Xanda the Lion is being referred to as Cecil’s “son.” This is ridiculous, especially coming from DW. A lot of liberal and anti-hunting sites are calling Xanda Cecil’s son, but you’d think a periodical like DW might get it right—not so much.

Animals do not have sons and daughters. Human children are called sons or daughters, depending on which sex they are. Male children are sons, female children are daughters., Those born to extremely confused liberal parents are called something else, I guess. But animals don’t have children, ever. Children are human.

The reference to Xanda as Cecil’s son is anthropomorphism, the act of ascribing human characteristics to non-human entities. Neil Diamond made famous quasi-use of anthropomorphism in his song, ‘I am, I said,’ when he pointed out that no one heard at all, not even the chair.’ As if a chair could hear. A chair can’t hear any more than a lion can sire a child.

The goal, obviously, is to cause readers to think of Xanda, and all lion cubs, as human. Never mind that Xanda was hunted legally. Never mind that Cooke obeyed all applicable game laws. Never mind that Xanda was more than six years old and had not been under Cecil’s dubious protection for years.

The antis are trying to depict Xanda as a poor, defenseless human child, murdered in cold blood by heartless animal haters, otherwise known as hunters.

Cecil’s protection was indeed dubious. Most animals protect their young, pretty much, most of the time—but not always. Many animals commit fratricide, usually right after birth, to ensure they will get more food. The practice is common among spotted hyenas, golden eagles, and many other birds and insects. It’s part of the whole “survival of the fittest” thing.

Infanticide is also pretty common in the animal kingdom, and one of the most habitual perpetrators is the African lion—Cecil, and, of course, his “son” Xanda.

When a male lion defeats the alpha in his pride, he nearly always kills all the cubs sired by the previous leader. This causes the females to go into estrus quicker. It also ensures the females will have more time for hunting, which among lions is almost entirely a female job. 

When the females bring in scant food, because of lean years or fast gazelles, the males still eat first, as always. Sometimes there isn’t any left over for the cubs. So they starve.

The anti-hunters want us to think of lions as people, as a mom and a dad and their children, living happily ever after in utopian bliss, until the evil hunter comes along bringing murder and mayhem into paradise. It’s a pretty picture, but it ain’t so.

Lions are not people. But then, I wonder about some people . . .

Email Kendal Hemphill at

[email protected]

Aguila Cup, Texas Armament




Email Kendal Hemphill at [email protected]


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