ABOVE: Comedian Ricky Gervais sets of social media firestorm after calling out big game hunter Rebecca Francis
Warning: This post contains images and language that may be disturbing to some readers.
No matter what Ricky Gervais and other critics on Twitter have to say, big-game hunter Rebecca Francis has no regrets about the giraffe she shot and killed in 2010 or the smiling photo she took with the carcass that has sparked an online uproar.
“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,” Francis said in a statement this week posted to the Facebook page of HuntingLife.com.
The Utah-born woman went on to say the giraffe was an old bull that had been pushed out of its herd by another younger and stronger male, and was wandering on its own.
People in an unidentified village, she said, asked her to help with caring for the lone giraffe.
“He was inevitably going to die soon and he could either be wasted or utilized by the local people. I chose to honor his life by providing others with his uses and I do not regret it for one second.”
She shot it with her crossbow after two days of hunting it.
A video posted on YouTube shows her stalking the giraffe before firing the fatal arrow into its neck.
“It was so exciting,” she tells one of her South African animal trackers. The video also shows the giraffe was not alone: a younger, smaller giraffe can be seen running away after Francis fires her arrow. (1:10)
She said the dead giraffe would feed villagers and parts of its body would be used to make jewelry and other products for sale.
“I am grateful to be a part of something so good,” Francis wrote in the Facebook post.
While all this happened five years ago, and Francis has been bow hunting big animals for years, it was only on Monday that comedian Ricky Gervais came across the photo and shared it with his more than 7.5 million followers on Twitter.
Gervais wrote a tweet about the post that was retweeted more than 30,000 times:
That led to a slew of tweets slamming Francis for her kill, and her glee, with some messages suggesting she’s a psychopath and some wishing her ill.
Gervais, known for writing and starring in shows such as The Office, Extras and Derek, is also devoted to animal rights. In a January 2014 post on his official Facebook page, Gervais wrote: “Animals don’t have a voice. But I do. A loud one. I’m a f***ing big mouth. My voice is for them. And I’ll never shut up while they suffer.”
Francis’ countered that she had done a good deed. On Wednesday and Thursday, Gervais reacted to Francis’ defence and shared other photos from her website and mocked her statements in a series of tweets.
Francis has a series of photos and videos of her kills. In that same 2010 safari, she also shot and killed a zebra, a blesbuck (an antelope) and a wildebeest, according to a gallery of photos on rebeccafrancis.com.
Photos and video from a 2002 hunt show her with several other dead animals, including a lion that she shot with a gun.
A video of that hunt, posted on YouTube in 2009, is titled Rebecca Francis Shoots Charging Lion. In the video, the lion can actually be seen turning away and walking into the bush as a tracker tells Francis to “shoot him.” A second lion is sitting motionless in the foreground until the gun goes off.