jimmy kimmel, cecil the lionFollowing the news of the poaching death of beloved Zimbabwe preserve resident Cecil the Lion, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel made an impassioned plea to viewers to turn that negative into a positive, and donate money to animal conservation efforts. Now, Kimmel's segment has helped contribute a staggering sum of money to that cause.

According to TheWrap, representatives for ABC have confirmed that more than 2,600 people have donated to Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit fund, the group that had been monitoring Cecil and other animals at the Hwange National Park. After Kimmel sent out his tearful message, the WCRU reported over $150,000 in donations to help support future research on lions and other conservation work.

On his show, Kimmel urged fans to donate to "show the world that not all Americans are like this jack-hole," referring to Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who has been identified as the hunter who lured Cecil off the preserve and killed him, in a painful process that took more than 40 hours. According to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, the host's efforts have made a huge difference.

"We are so grateful for this and for the up-welling of support for our work worldwide," said WCRU director David Macdonald in a statement on the group's site. " ... [F]or an organisation that depends on philanthropy we are deeply grateful for this support – it will be a wonderful monument to Cecil the lion if we are empowered by these donation[s] to continue and to increase our conservation work. ... Millions of people around the world have been inspired to express the value they place on lions and other wildlife – if each of them grasps this moment to make a donation to our project, however small, our capacity to work for conservation would be revolutionised."

Kimmel's segment can be found here. To donate, visit WCRU's site here.

[via: TheWrap, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit]

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