There’s a Cecil the Lion Halloween Costume, and Yes, the Head Is Chopped Off

The grisly ensemble lets you dress up as Walter James Palmer, the dentist who shot Zimbabwe’s most famous big cat and sparked international outrage.

Cecil the lion. (Photo: Flickr)

Aug 26, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Dressing up in a hazmat suit for Halloween and impersonating a health care worker battling Ebola in West Africa is so last year. It’s still two months until the candy-filled, spooktacular holiday, but retailers are already lining up a fresh crop of questionable costumes. At the front of the politically incorrect pack: a gruesome getup that allows people to dress as Walter James Palmer, the Minneapolis dentist who outraged the world when he killed Zimbabwe’s famed Cecil the lion in July.

On Tuesday, California-based online retailer Costumeish.com began offering a “Lion Killer Dentist Halloween Costume.” Along with a severed lion’s head, the outfit comes with a dentist smock and medical gloves splattered with fake blood, as well as dental instruments to fit in the smock’s front pocket.

“All Doctor Palmer wanted was to hang dead animals in his house, but what started as an obscure (if legally-dubious) hunting trip has since erupted into a brouhaha of trans-Atlantic proportions,” reads the costume description. “The CEO of 2015’s most controversial killing has laid bare the rift in American and Zimbabwean attitudes toward exotic game hunting and animal conservation pitting an outraged mob against a Minnesotan dentist in a scandal sure to be remembered for a generation.”

Indeed, the backlash over Cecil’s killing was so severe that Palmer was forced to shutter his dental practice, and several major U.S. airlines have banned the transport of game hunting trophies including lion heads and skins. The outrage also turned the spotlight on how common it is for Americans to travel to Africa to shoot the big cats. U.S. hunters are more than 60 percent of the 15,000 annual lion trophy seekers who head to the continent, according to the group Conservation Force.

(Photo: Costumeish/Facebook)

Costumeish CEO Johnathon Weeks told Time on Tuesday that the company decided to make the costume because of consumer demand, but Weeks also told TMZ on Tuesday that no one had yet ordered it. By Wednesday morning, however, the cost of the lion-hunting-dentist ensemble had increased from its original $59.99. “Due to popular demand the price of the costume has been raised to $99.99,” read a message on its description page. TakePart reached out to Costumeish to find out how many of the items have been sold, but the company did not reply to the request for comment.

Costumeish doesn’t plan to keep all the cash it rakes in from sales of the item. The costume’s Web page notes that the company will donate 15 percent of all proceeds from the sale of the costume to “a wildlife foundation.”

“Maybe our money has Cecil’s lion’s blood on it,” Weeks said to Time about the decision to make the costume. “I’m not here to offend anybody, I’m just here to keep things questionable.”