Just when we all thought we were about as sick of trophy killing as we could possibly be, an Indiana father proves us wrong. In now-deleted Twitter posts published last July, Allen Tarpley proudly showed off photos of his two sons, then seven and nine years old, alongside the lionesses they each killed. Once animal activists discovered the posts (in the wake of Cecil the lion’s death), Tarpley deleted his Twitter account @Safarihunter77—so perhaps he is not that proud after all.

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In one post, Tarpley shared the photo above with the caption, “My 7-year-old with his first lion.” The photo depicts a young boy kneeling beside a dead lioness, with rifle in hand. Another photo shows Tarpley’s nine-year-old son with his victim. In that photo, the boy isn’t looking at the camera or at his trophy. Instead, he’s casually using the dead lion as a backrest while he plays on a tablet computer. These boys are so young that it seems impossible to imagine they could understand the impact of what they have done.

Related: American public calls for the extradition of lion poacher Walter Palmer

Little is known about the backstory related to these two hunted animals, although presumably they were ‘legal’ kills, unlike the death of Cecil the lion, who was allegedly lured outside the park and then killed in an area where hunting was not permitted. Regardless of legality, the thought of two young children taking down majestic wild animals is troubling on many levels. Although the activity may represent a great bonding opportunity for a father and his sons, surely there are other options that don’t revolve around the senseless killing of a wild animal.

In an era when children should be encouraged to protect and cherish wildlife, most states allow children to take up a rifle and kill wild animals – sometimes without even needing a hunting license. With the ever-growing threat against lion populations from poachers and other hunters, it seems like the last thing we should be doing is encouraging our children to kill them for sport.

Via Inhabitots

Images via Allen Tarpley/Twitter