BLOOMINGTON, Minn. —The Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion returned to work Tuesday after weeks away, walking silently into his small dental practice, past swarming media and a handful of protesters calling for him to be sent to Zimbabwe to face trial.

Walter Palmer had largely retreated from public view since he was identified as Cecil’s killer in July, offering little insight into the hunt until an interview Sunday with The Associated Press in which he defended the kill as legal and announced his plan to return to work.

Some of the uproar bubbled up shortly after sunrise Tuesday as a security guard whisked Palmer inside the clinic, past reporters shouting questions and a protester repeatedly yelling, “Extradite Palmer!” Palmer walked from a nearby street where police had blocked off traffic, meeting the guard in the parking lot of his Bloomington practice and rushing through a door covered in messages reading: “Justice for Cecil” and “May you never hunt again.”

The small throng of protesters didn’t match the furor in the days after Cecil was killed during a July hunt in Zimbabwe’s vast Hwange National Park, when hundreds gathered to hold vigils for the big cat and forced River Bluff Dental to temporarily close. Just a few protesters were on site when he arrived.

The crowd grew to roughly a dozen by midmorning, holding signs calling for an end to trophy hunting and chanting on a megaphone: “We will never falter! Prosecute Walter!”

Cathy Pierce said she drove more than an hour from her home to the Bloomington clinic to “fight for animals who can’t fight for themselves.”

She scoffed at Palmer’s suggestion in his interview with the AP that protesters had unfairly targeted his employees and family, in some cases threatening violence.

“We’re not picking on his staff or his family. We’re picking on him,” she said. “We want him to know that we’re not going to forget.”

While Palmer’s guides on the hunt have either been charged or await charges for their involvement in Cecil’s killing, the Zimbabwean government’s pursuit of the dentist has cooled off amid fears it could hamper a hunting industry that is lucrative and important for the country.

Palmer had said he relied on local guides for the hunt that killed Cecil, who authorities have said was lured from a protected wildlife preserve. He repeated in Sunday’s interview with AP that neither he nor anyone in his party knew the lion was special and said if he had known, “obviously I wouldn’t have taken it.”

It’s been a month since Zimbabwean officials announced that police would process paperwork to extradite Palmer for participating in the hunt, but as of Monday, a police spokeswoman in Harare, the African country’s capital, said there were no new developments in the case.

An attorney for Palmer told AP that he offered to make Palmer available to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to talk about the case weeks ago, but hasn’t heard back.

“If some governmental agency or investigative unit would make a claim that he had violated some law, then we’d talk about it,” said Joe Friedberg, a lawyer.

Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Laury Parramore said Tuesday that an investigation continues.

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