In a win for outraged animal advocates, Delta Airlines, the largest US carrier to Africa, announced today that it would ban the freight shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo trophies globally.
Although the airline did not mention it, the move comes amid pressure from animal rights groups after beloved lion Cecil was killed in Zimbabwe by an American dentist in July. Had Cecil’s body not been seized by Zimbabwean authorities, Delta would have been a likely carrier of the prized parts for Walter Palmer, who shot Cecil, to transport them home (Delta is the only American airline company to offer direct flights to Africa).
A handful of other airlines—including British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Qantas, Qatar, Etihad, Iberia, Singapore and Brussels Airlines—had already banned shipments of some exotic animal hunting trophies. Delta had been noticeably absent from the list.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the US, praised Delta for setting a good example. These animals “belong on the savanna, not on the walls and in home museums of wealthy people who spend a fortune to kill the grandest, most majestic animals in the world,” he said in a statement.
Delta did not respond immediately to a request for more detail on its policy.