American Hunter's Giraffe Trophy Kill Earns International Outrage

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People love non-human animals. That's why the entire internet was on edge as a racoon scaled a skyscraper just a few weeks ago.

But some people enjoy hunting and killing wildlife so much that they wll travel halfway across the world to hunt a rare, exotic species and share those photos.

One big game hunter's photos of her posing with a giraffe's corpse have gone viral as people condemn her. But is there more to this story?

Tess Thompson Talley

In 2017, Tess Thompson Talley traveled to Africa where she hunted and killed an 18-year-old, 4,000 pound giraffe.

She then posed with the body for a series of haunting, even going so far as to "hug" the dead male in a particularly ghoulish image.

Though she shared the pictures of her "dream hunt" in 2017, the images are going viral now after they were shared by an African Twitter account.

Accompanying two photos of the Kentucky native, the outlet shamed her in an inflammatory tweet.

"White american savage who is partly a neanderthal comes to Africa and shoot down a very rare black giraffe," the tweet begins. 

That is deliberately confrontational language -- but we should point out that genetic studies do confirm that almost all humans, save portions of Africans, have neanderthal ancestry.

Africa Digest tweet

The tweet continues, saying that this horror comes "courtesy of South Africa stupidity."

That is likely a reference to the fact that a few countries, including South Africa, permit a degree of big game hunting.

"Her name is Tess Thompson Talley," the tweet concludes. "Please share."

A follow-up tweet is a little less inflammatory.

"If our so called governments can't care for our wildlife," the Africa Digest account writes. "Then its time we stand up and responsibility of our continent, lands, resources and wildlife."

"Share share share! and lets have a united voice against pillage of Africa," the tweet says. "It's the only home we have"

Tess Thompson Talley Image

The horrifying photos of Talley's gruesome "dream hunt" went viral, with people sharing their horror and sorrow.

Even celebrities added their voices to the mix.

On Instagram, actress Debra Messing writes: "Tess Thompson Talley from Nippa, Kentucky is a disgusting, vile, amoral, heartless, selfish murderer."

"With joy in her black heart and a beaming smile," Messing describes. "She lies next to the dead carcass of a *rare* black giraffe in South Africa."

While we don't necessarily object to her characterization of Talley, there is some question as to the rarity of this particular species of giraffe.

"Giraffes are the epitome of gentle giants," Messing says. "They glide across the plains, like liquid; awe inspiring creatures who spend their days eating leaves and caring for their young."

Tess Thompson Talley Photo

"How DARE she," Messing continues. "A rare animal that will be extinct by the time her grandchildren can go and gutlessly sit in the brush with a scope and pull a trigger."

In case you missed the grim news, yes, some giraffe species have quietly and quickly slipped from being safe to being critically endangered.

"It does not take skill to have a ranger track a giraffe for you, and with the aid of night vision glasses and a scope, pull a trigger like some Carnival game," Messing says.

"If you need to eat a giraffe? Get a bow and arrow and make it at least a fair fight," Messing suggests.

Most would argue that the but I need to hunt for food argument goes out the window when you book a flight from Kentucky to South Africa.

"I am disgusted by people like you Tess," Messing says. "You reek of privilege and ignorance. Shame on you. And your husband Andrew Claude. Unconscionable. Irreparable damage. Irreplaceable beauty."

Tess Thompson Talley hugs giraffe corpse

When Tess Thompson Talley first shared the image, she wrote about it.

"Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today!" Talley announced. "Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite a while."

Like the sorts of stories you usually only hear in people's engagement stories or a serial killer's diary, she wrote about when she "knew."

"I knew it was the one," Talley says. "He was over 18 years old, 4000 lbs. and was blessed to be able to get 2000 lbs. of meat from him."

Since her story went viral, Talley has defended her actions, saying that her hunt aids conservation efforts and that killing this older giraffe was doing a favor for the species.

Tess Thompson Talley beside her kill

It is true that giraffes are endangered, with overall populations having plummeted by a staggering 40% in the past 25 years.

This particular species, however, seems to be doing okay.

"The giraffe in the photo," Julian Fennessy of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation says. "Is of the South African species Giraffa giraffe, which are not rare – they are increasing in the wild."

That's good news for the South African giraffe.

However, as many have pointed out, the ethical concerns of big game hunting extend far beyond whether or not a species is in danger.

There are issues of cruelty. And, when a white person from a global superpower visits Africa, a continent ravaged by vicious colonialism and genocide, there's possibly a racist angle.

Killing for conservation is a complicated issue but ... wow, the glee in thos photos is a little unsettling.

These stories are never pleasant.

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