Kendall Jones may seem like the typical Texas cheerleader. But photos of the smiling, blonde nineteen-year-old are causing furious comments and even death threats.
The Texas Tech University sophomore recently posted hunting photos on her Facebook page, and the shots of her posing next to the carcasses of exotic animals in Africa are attracting more hate than Likes. Her hunting trophies include lions, rhinos, leopards, and hippos, and some of the pictures are disturbing. At least two petitions demand that her page be removed from Facebook, and another petition on Change.org calls for Jones to be banned from Africa.
Jones first became interested in hunting when she visited Africa at age nine, and then shot her first animal, a white rhino, four years later, according to her bio on her Facebook page.
Many of the animals she hunts are endangered, which angers animal rights activists worldwide. One of the petitions demands Jones’s page be removed from Facebook “for the sake of all animals, especially in the African region . . . where hunters are going for fun just to kill an animal.” It had received more 120,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning. “It seems Facebook is not concerned about what Kendall Jones is promoting in her page,” the petition writes.
Jones argues that her hunting helps conservation efforts and gives support to the African communities where she hunts.
“Controlling the male lion population is important within large fenced areas like these,” Jones writes on her page. “Funds from a hunt like this goes partially to the government for permits but also to the farm owner as an incentive to keep and raise lions on their property.”
She adds that not all of the animals she poses with are actually dead. On the caption of a photo of the cheerleader next to the endangered white rhino, she explained that she had helped to tranquilize the animal so that it could receive veterinary attention. “I felt very lucky to be part of such a great program and procedure that helps the White Rhino population through conservation,’ she wrote.
Her Facebook page also says she plans to host a television show in 2015.
Change.org’s petition to deny Jones access to African nations has 30,000 signatures. “Kendall Jones is an American born hunter who has entered the continent and has been hunting African wildlife under the facade of conservation,” is explains, adding that she “is using endangered and helpless African animals as a stepping [stone] to further her popularity on social media platforms.”
Though some comments on her photos urge her diplomatically to stop hunting endangered animals, some take a more direct approach. “I’d love to drop kick you into a lions’ den, see how you do without your gun,” one commenter noted.
Jones has not let the insults and threats stop her, though. “I just want to thank all the haters for making such a big deal with your uneducated comments,” she wrote in response to the comments. “Due to the popularity, I’ve got over 200 new likes in the past 2 hours!”
Molly Wharton is an intern at National Review.