You might’ve heard of Walter Palmer, who is both a dentist from Minnesota and an asshole. Instead of using the $50,000 he had burning a hole in his pocket to do something useful for the world, last month Palmer decided to kill a beloved lion in Zimbabwe named Cecil. Now, in response to global outrage over the slaying, Delta Airlines has ceased all shipments of wildlife trophies.

Between last week’s wholesale media shitstorm that has sent Palmer into hiding and an online petition that reached nearly 400,000 signatures, the airline joined other carriers who have made commitments not to transport large animals killed for trophies. Calls for policy change were directed towards Delta because because it is the only U.S. airline with direct service to South Africa.

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In its statement yesterday, Delta officials said that they “will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight,” with immediate effect. The decision earned quick praise from The Humane Society of the United States.

A Lufthansa MD-11 cargo aircraft loading freight containers.

Other airlines who refuse to transport wildlife trophies include British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Qantas, Qatar, Etihad, Iberia, Singapore Airlines, Brussels Airlines and South African Airways.

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You don’t have to be an animal rights activist to see how shipping a slain lion’s head could make Delta, or any carrier, an accessory to murder in the court of public opinion. Fortunately for Delta, such a public relations nightmare was avoided.

Unfortunately, big game trophy hunters (who are often extremely wealthy) will likely still be able to find ways to transport the animals they take. Delta’s announcement at least makes their chosen form of entertainment less convenient, and certainly sends a symbolic message that the global village remains deeply disturbed by Cecil’s senseless death.

Delta jets at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in 2005

Photo credit: Cecil the Lion - Daughter#3/Wikicommons, Lufthansa MD-11 loading cargo - LCAG/Wikicommons, Delta jets at CVG - David Kohl/AP

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