On Monday, Ricky Gervais posted a picture of 41-year-old hunter Rebecca Francis lying next to a giraffe she had killed.
He captioned the photo, “What must’ve happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal and then lie next to it smiling?”
Since it was posted on Monday, Gervais’s post has been shared almost 69,000 times on Facebook. Commenters were outraged: “Giraffes are the friendliest animals ever. This b**** needs to be shot,” said one while another wrote “I would probably be smiling if I shot her (the woman, not the giraffe, you morons).”
Francis began receiving death threats on Twitter, too.
Rebecca Francis deserves to die. Just saying.
— Claudia del Castillo (@clauditamaria) April 15, 2015
trophy hunter rebecca francis should be hunted down and shot.
— Dan Hintz (@danielhintz) April 15, 2015
Though Business Insider was unable to trace where the photo Gervais posted originated from, Francis is a professional hunter who is no stranger to posting images of herself posing with dead animals — she has a gallery on her website of her big game kills such as dead lions, bears, zebras, and more.
She even became somewhat of a celebrity huntress after winning a reality show called Extreme Huntress in 2010.
Business Insider reached out to Francis to ask her about the controversy, but was unable to reach her. Francis did, however, give an exclusive statement to HuntingLife.com [emphasis ours]:
When I was in Africa five years ago I was of the mindset that I would never shoot a giraffe. I was approached toward the end of my hunt with a unique circumstance. They showed me this beautiful old bull giraffe that was wandering all alone. He had been kicked out of the herd by a younger and stronger bull. He was past his breeding years and very close to death. They asked me if I would preserve this giraffe by providing all the locals with food and other means of survival. He was inevitably going to die soon and he could either be wasted or utilised by the local people. I chose to honour his life by providing others with his uses and I do not regret it for one second. Once he was down there were people waiting to take his meat. They also took his tail to make jewellery, his bones to make other things, and did not waste a single part of him. I am grateful to be a part of something so good.
This is a similar sentiment to what Francis has written on her blog before in 2011:
There is no question that I am extremely selective about the animals I hunt. I feel it is absolutely necessary to hunt older and more mature animals. In a lot of cases, that puts that animal past it’s breeding prime and the animal can actually be kicked out of the herd and replaced with a younger, stronger male to introduce new genetics into the gene pool. Consequently, that animal can not only be bullied by the new male, but also be left all alone to suffer until it’s inevitable death.
Yet even with her new statement, many anti-hunters are not appeased. “Personally I don’t see how she could stand at the side of the animal with a big smile on her face even if she did do it a favour,” one commenter said. “She’s posing like she has a trophy!”
Francis joins Texas cheerleader Kendall Jones for receiving major backlash after posting pictures of herself posing with big game animals she had hunted.
Last year, outrage over Jones’s Facebook pictures posing with dead lions launched a Change.org petition that reached over 168,000 signatures that attempted to petition the American Embassy to ban Kendall Jones from hunting in Africa.
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