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Alberta couple face fierce scorn over photo with dead lion after U.K. tabloid makes them the face of an anti-hunting campaign


Photos of them with dead animals from other hunts accompany another story headlined 'Couple's delight at slaughter of beasts'

A couple from Alberta has unwillingly become the faces of an aggressive anti-hunting campaign by a British tabloid that featured photos of them kissing over the body of a large lion shot on safari in Africa.

The tabloid calls the pair “sick” and “vile” and the provocative photos of Darren and Carolyn Carter — who run a taxidermy company in Spruce Grove — have since sparked fierce online outrage.

The photo of the Carters’ kiss on a recent hunt in South Africa struck a particular nerve with viewers.

It was the feature photo in the Daily Mirror as it launched a campaign to end trophy hunting and to pressure the British government to ban the importation of animals shot for pleasure. The tabloid’s campaign focuses on the Carters, who are branded “a sick couple.”

Photos of them with dead animals from other hunts accompany another story headlined “Couple’s delight at slaughter of beasts.”

The photos were soon picked up by other British news outlets and quickly spread through social media with many expressing outrage at the couple’s pastime.

The Mirror found the photos on the promotional Facebook page of a South African company, Legelela Safaris.

Under the photo of the couple, with their lips locking as they sit behind the body of an enormous lion, the tour company wrote: “Hard work in the hot Kalahari sun … well done. A monster lion.”

For a second photo of them with a lion, the tour company wrote: “There is nothing like hunting the king of the jungle in the sands of the Kalahari. Well done to the happy huntress and the team.”

The Facebook photos have since been taken down, but copies are circulating furiously online, and not in a friendly way.

The Mirror spoke briefly with Darren Carter about why they are kissing before its piece was published, quoting him saying: “We aren’t interested in commenting on that at all. It’s too political.”

Messages for the couple by the National Post were not returned prior to deadline.

Until now, at least, the Carters have not been shy about their hunting exploits.

Photos of them with dead game are featured on the website for their taxidermy company, Solitude Taxidermy, which uses the slogan “Bring your Trophy back to Life.”

“We are hunters too, and our trophies mean the world to us. It’s not just an animal, it’s our memories of our best and most challenging experiences,” they say on their site.

“Holidays are spent either hunting or going to taxidermy seminars and visiting competitions in Canada, the USA, and overseas.”

Public criticism of trophy hunting and photos of hunters posing over the body of animals has been particularly strong after the 2015 killing of Cecil the Lion , who lived in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

Cecil, a popular attraction at the park, was killed by Walter Palmer , an American dentist. Cecil was lured by a dead animal attached to a car for Palmer, who was on a paid safari.

Palmer became the target of an international fury. He was subject to death threats and his dental office was picketed. “Lion Killer” was spray painted on the garage door of his vacation home.

Anger with the Carters is also appearing online.

An enthusiastic testimonial about their first hunting safari in Africa in 2014 is still online on another hunting tour operator’s site, featuring them with several dead animals and their declaration it was “the best vacation of our lives.”

The page had no comments for nearly five years but within hours of the kissing photos circulating, messages were left by livid readers, calling them “bloodthirsty savagrs (sic)” and “Shame on you. Karma will be fitting.”

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