A Sunderland dental practice says it is proud to have a lion as a mascot in the wake of the killing of Zimbabwe’s most famous big cat.
For seven years, Olly the lion has been associated with Oliver Dental Practice, in East Herrington.
The loveable mascot has appeared at events throughout the community, and last week entertained visitors at the Sunderland Airshow.
After the illegal killing of 13-year-old lion Cecil in Zimbabwe by US dentist Walter Palmer, patients of the practice have been asking for the views of staff at the surgery on the issue.
Practice manager Joanne Barella said: “We are proud to have Olly the lion as our practice mascot for the past seven years.
“The loveable, cuddly lion is loved by all the dentists, staff and patients. Olly always goes the extra mile and is very much a part of our team at Oliver’s.
Lot’s of our patients have been asking our views - we love lions.Staff at Oliver’s dental practice
“He is well pampered when he returns, receiving lots of love from all the team.
“Since the news of the killing of Cecil we have had lots of our patients asking us about it and what are views are – we love lions, our mascot is a lion.”
There has been global outcry on social media over the killing of Cecil. The lion was protected and a major tourist attraction in Hwange National Park.
He was renowned for being friendly towards visitors and was recognised by his distinctive black mane.
Since Palmer was outed as his killer, the dentist from Minnesota has been a target for condemnation from people around the world.
Zimbabwe’s environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri, has called for him to be extradited to the country to face charges.
It is thought the dentist paid $50,000 (£32,000) to hunt the lion.
A public petition to extradite the American dentist has been signed by more than 100,000 people.