Texas cheerleader and critics face off over controversial safari hunting photos
If you haven't seen the pictures of Kendall Jones and carcasses of rhinos, lions and other animals that are lighting up the Internet, you are likely to be shocked. Posing with rare creatures she killed on African safaris, Jones has created an web-based firestorm that won't die down.
Hundreds of animal rights activists are outraged and disgusted with the photos that the 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader claims are meant to show she is dedicated to game preservation.
"All of Kendall's hunts in Zimbabwe and South Africa were 100% legal with proper tags and licenses awarded on a pre-approved quota by the countries officials and wildlife department," her family said.
Some critics have launched an online petition with more than 80,000 signatures asking Facebook to remove these cruel photos. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that the social media network recently removed some of Jones' more graphic pictures of her kills for violating the site's policies.
Another petition started by a South African man was signed by more than 40,000 people, asking the South African government to ban and deny Jones entry to the country, where some of her safaris have taken place.
But Jones, a native of Cleburne, a small town around 50 miles southwest of Dallas, has supporters too, with 89,000 likes on her Facebook page on Tuesday.
Jones' family has defended the photos and actions of their daughter, "First and foremost, it's imperative to make mention that all of Kendall's hunts in Zimbabwe and South Africa were 100% legal with proper tags and licenses awarded on a pre-approved quota by the countries officials and wildlife department," the family said in a statement on the Todayshow.
On Tuesday, Jones posted a picture of herself on Facebook holding a rifle with the caption, “I just want to THANK all of my supporters for their continued encouragement and backing! I will continue to hunt and spread the knowledge of hunting and wildlife conservation.”
More than 18,000 angry people commented on her photo, criticizing her for her actions and referring her to as "ignorant, selfish and un-American young girl."
However, this didn't deter her. On Tuesday, Jones created a separate Facebook page called Support Kendall, which already has almost 80,000 likes. She said she created this page so supporters have the opportunity to reach out and prove that they have the "freedom to share and promote 100% legal activities that hunters and conservationist continue to engage in."
She has also signed a development deal for a series on the Sportsman Channel.