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Cecil the lion's killing brings Jimmy Kimmel to brink of tears

Jimmy Kimmel choked back tears Tuesday night during a monologue dedicated to the killing of a popular lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist who hunts big game for sport.

'Stop saying you took the animal. You take Aspirin. You killed the lion'

Jimmy Kimmel choked back tears Tuesday night during a monologue dedicated to the uproar over the killing of a popular lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist who hunts big game for sport.

"This is — I should say was — Cecil the lion. Beautiful animal," Kimmel says, opening the segment with footage of Cecil when he was alive. 

The 13-year-old lion was a local favourite among tourists and guides. He wore a GPS tracking device as part of a long-running Oxford University study. 

This was until Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who is wanted on poaching charges, lured Cecil from a protected area in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, and killed him with a crossbow in early July.

Palmer is believed to have injured Cecil with his bow before tracking him for 40 hours and finishing him off with a gun. The lion's skinned and headless body was found along with Cecil's tracking collar, which the hunters allegedly tried to destroy.

Palmer issued a statement Tuesday saying he regretted that his hunt led to Cecil's death, but that to the best of his knowledge everything about his trip was legal. He said he was unaware that the lion he "took" was a local favourite. 

"Stop saying you took the Lion. You take Aspirin. You killed the lion," Kimmel said in his monologue. "The big question is, why are you shooting a lion in the first place? How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things?"

'He killed like half of Noah's Ark,' Jimmy Kimmel said of Walter Palmer's hunting conquests. (ABC/Bryan Orford/YouTube)

Kimmel goes on to call Palmer "the most hated man in America who never advertised Jell-O pudding on television," a comparison to Bill Cosby, who has been accused of sexually assaulting women. 

"He killed like half of Noah's Ark," Kimmel joked of Palmer's previous hunting conquests. 

But the monologue ended on a serious note. As he choked back tears, Kimmel said he hoped some good could come from "this disgusting tragedy," directing viewers to the Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit website.

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