Artist creates Cecil the lion tote bag to benefit wildlife research

Artist creates Cecil the lion tote bag to benefit wildlife research
Cecil the lion, shown in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park in an undated photo, left, and artist Stephanie Conrad's tote bag bearing the lion's likeness, sales of which will benefit wildlife research. (Andy Loveridge / Wildlife Conservation Research Unit/Associated Press; Stephanie Conrad)

Moved by the death of Cecil the lion at the hands of a trophy hunter, an Austin, Texas, artist has designed an eco-friendly tote bag bearing the Zimbabwean lion's likeness and will be donating a portion of proceeds from the bag's sales to benefit wildlife conservation.

"I sketched the design after hearing about Cecil's death on Monday," Stephanie Conrad said via email late Wednesday. "As a vegetarian and all around animal lover, I am just sickened by any form of abuse and trophy hunting may just be the most despicable act I can think of."

Conrad, who specializes in pet portraiture, said the design on the tote bag was based on the "many beautiful photos" she'd seen of Cecil and was hand-sketched on paper before being turned into a graphic screen print.

Cecil, a well-known resident of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, met his end at the hands of Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer earlier this month. When the death of the much-beloved animal hit the news Monday it touched off a firestorm on the Internet, with commenters jamming the Facebook and Yelp pages of Palmer's dental practice with vitriolic comments.

In a post on her studio blog Wednesday, Conrad said she would be donating 30% of proceeds from the sale of the totes to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University, the British-based organization that has been conducting a long-term study of Cecil's pride.

"While donations can never bring Cecil back," Conrad wrote, "they can help countless animals in the future! As my own part, I will be donating a portion of every Cecil tote bag to help continue research for lions like Cecil."

The 100% recycled cotton tote bears the lion's image in red, weighs six ounces, measures 14½ by 15 inches when flat and have a 22-inch handle. They're priced at $14.99 each before shipping and can be ordered online.

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