Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel became emotional on his show Tuesday as he spoke about Cecil, a protected lion whose killing by an American in Zimbabwe and his guides under gruesome and what authorities call illegal circumstances has ignited a media firestorm.

Referring to a statement by the hunter, a Minnesota dentist named Walter J. Palmer, who said, "I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite," Kimmel, 47, declared, "First of all, stop saying you took the animal! You take aspirin! You killed the lion! You didn't 'take' it!"

advertisement | advertise on newsday

In a 4 1/2-minute monologue, he told his audience, "Let's say we accept at face value that he thought it was legal and properly handled and didn't know the lion had a tracking collar and was a local favorite. The big question is: Why are you shooting a lion in the first place? I mean, I'm honestly curious to know why a human being would feel compelled to do that?"

Kimmel affirmed that he wasn't against hunting. "If you're hunting to eat or to help keep the animal population healthy or it's part of your culture or something, that's one thing. But if you're some [expletive] dentist who wants a lion's head over the fireplace in his man cave so his [expletive] buddies can gather around it and drink Scotch and tell him how awesome he is. That's just vomitus."

Striving to create something positive from "this disgusting tragedy," Kimmel urged viewers to contribute to Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, which was tracking Cecil.

"If you want to do something -- if you want to make this into a positive, you can, uh, sorry," he said, getting choked up. Composing himself and assuring that, "OK, I'm good," he said: "Make a donation. Support them. At the very least, maybe we can show the world that not all Americans are like this jack-hole here."

Wildlife Conservation director David Macdonald thanked Kimmel and his viewers for the attention to the cause, adding, "the email deluge is overwhelming us."