(NEW YORK) — Recently released photographs of two of Donald Trump’s sons with dead animals from a Zimbabwean hunting safari last year have sparked criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Twitter users.
One photograph shows Donald Trump Jr., 34, and brother Eric, 28, standing around a dead crocodile, which is hanging from a tree by a rope.
Another photo shows one brother, wearing a belt of ammunition, holding a knife in one hand and a bloody elephant tail in the other. The dead elephant is lying on the ground beside him.
PETA spokesman Nicole Dao said in a statement, “If the young Trumps are looking for a thrill, perhaps they should consider skydiving, bungee jumping, or even following in their anti-hunting father’s footsteps and taking down competing businesses – not wild animals. Like all animals, elephants, buffalo, and crocodiles deserve better than to be killed and hacked apart for two young millionaires’ grisly photo opportunity. If the Trumps want to help villagers, they have plenty of resources at their disposal.”
The businessmen brothers work for their father’s Trump Organization real estate empire. Their representative did not return a call for comment.
In a joint statement, however, the brothers said, “We are both avid outdoorsmen and were brought up hunting and fishing with our grandfather, who taught us that nothing should ever be taken for granted or wasted. We have the utmost respect for nature and have always hunted in accordance with local laws and regulations. In addition, all meat was donated to local villagers who were incredibly grateful. We love traveling and being in the woods. At the end of the day, we are outdoorsmen at heart.”
Donald Trump Jr. defended himself against the flood of criticism on Twitter, insisting that the meat from the animals they hunted “fed a village for a month.”
In response to accusations that the two men mutilated the animals, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “@imyourlawyer mutilating a corpse? A villager cut the tail off as part of their traditions from the old ivory hunters I went with it.”
Many people accused the men of hunting exotic animals that wildlife conservation groups are working hard to protect.
“@EspresStilettos if u knew anything about it you would realize nothing we hunt is endangered that’s just how its spun by anti hunters,” Trump Jr. tweeted.
“@FollowSmoke in parts of africa they are actually overpopulated and killed by the govt. I know its not PC but look it up you’ll see,” according to another tweet by Trump Jr.
Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter that he did not release the photographs, and did not know who did.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN