Artist Mark Balma paints a lion's head in the parking lot of River Bluff Dental clinic, in Bloomington, Minnesota, to protest the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, on July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Miller

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has honored Cecil, the African lion killed by an American big-game hunter, by introducing legislation to restrict the hunting of endangered species. Hunting down and killing Cecil, the African lion, has caused a huge international controversy.

Menendez introduced the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act, which would extend boundaries on the export and the import of animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Current restrictions are applicable only to the animals included in the list.

Oppah Muchinguri,the environment minister of Zimbabwe, where Cecil was killed, asked Washington to extradite Walter Palmer, the hunter responsible for Cecil’s death. The 55-year-old dentist shot, skinned, and beheaded the lion during a hunting expedition in July. Reuters reported that Palmer admitted killing the 13-year-old African lion.

Cecil had a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study. The death of the lion has caused global outrage as people have slammed Palmer for his act. A public petition demanding Palmer's extradition with more than 100,000 signatures was submitted to the White House.

Menendez said that people should not be “cowardly lions” by indulging in trophy killings. “Cecil’s death was a preventable tragedy that highlights the need to extend the protections of the Endangered Species Act,” the senator told Politico. “When we have enough concern about the future of a species to propose it for listing [as endangered], we should not be killing it for sport.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the African lion should be listed among the “threatened” species. However, the listing has not been confirmed yet.

A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday charged professional local hunter Theo Bronkhorst with failing to prevent the unlawful killing of the southern African country's best-known lion. Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, paid $50,000 to kill the lion.


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