Kendall Jones, a Texas Tech student from Cleburne, is generating controversy for posting Facebook pictures of lions, elephants and other animals she has hunted in Africa.
In fact, she’s attracted international attention – and thousands of heated comments on her Facebook page, many from people opposed to hunting. Many don’t care that she’s posing with dead or tranquilized animals.
Here are five things you should know about the controversy.
1. Kendall Jones loves hunting. The 19-year-old has wanted to hunt since she was a kid. Jones has been in Zimbabwe and South Africa, hunting leopards, elephants, crocodiles and other animals with guns and bows. She has posted several pictures on her Facebook page of her posing with the animals. She has posted video delivering elephant meat to African villagers.
2. Many are outraged by what she’s done. One man told her he hopes she gets eaten by a lion. Another called her a coward. She’s also been called “scum,” “bimbo,” a “sociopath” and “horrible.” One person wrote: “Being a hunter myself I think you should eat what you hunt and respect what you kill. There is absolutely no respect in [these] pictures.” More than 120,000 people have signed an online petition asking Facebook to remove Jones’ Facebook page. But some have come to Jones’ defense. “It blows my mind that people can talk to this young girl like this,” one person wrote. “I couldn't imagine some of you would say these things to her family or her face. … Most of you have not donated one minute or one red cent to wildlife conservation. Get educated and get involved.”
The Humane Society of the United States has criticized Jones. The Humane Society’s vice president for wildlife protection, Nicole Paquette, said in a statement: “Traveling halfway around the world to shoot some of the world’s most magnificent, and threatened animals is shameful. Many of the species that Ms. Jones has killed face declining populations due to loss of habitat and poaching. Amidst this crisis, trophy hunting only adds to the threats to the survival of these iconic species and is nothing more than a thrill kill. … Rather than pose for social media with these rare species, lying lifeless, Ms. Jones should support true conservation efforts to combat poaching.”
3. There’s been intense media coverage. A British tabloid called her the “Baby-Faced Killer.” Gawker has written about Jones with this headline: “Meet the Texas Cheerleader Famous for Killing Animals in Africa.” Other outlets, from Fox News to Buzzfeed to Huffington Post, have chimed in.
4. Jones has a history with hunting. When she was 9, she first traveled with her family to Africa – she was too small to hold her dad’s guns. “As badly as I wanted to shoot something, I was just too small to hold the guns my dad had brought,” she wrote on Facebook. She said she became fascinated with life in Africa, and has delivered candy, coloring books and soccer balls to children there. When she was 13, she shot a white rhino. When she was 14, she shot an elephant, lion and leopard. She hopes to eventually host a television program about hunting.
5. Jones defends herself. “I really am shocked at how rude many people are by name calling and swearing,” Jones told the Cleburne Times-Review. She posted a picture of Theodore Roosevelt posing with a rhinoceros he hunted and wrote on her Facebook page: “How can it be possible that someone can love the earth, and take from the Earth in the name of conservation? For some folks, they'll never understand. For the rest of us...we were born that way.” She says she will continue to hunt and “spread the knowledge of hunting and wildlife conservation.”
You might recall another controversy involving an African hunt -- back in January, the Dallas Safari Club auctioned off the right to hunt a rare black rhino. Revisit that issue here.