Posted: Wed, July 2 2014 at 8:22 AM, Updated: Wed, July 2 2014 at 8:32 AM
(The Today Show) Kendall Jones is used to being the one behind the barrel, but now the Texas Tech University cheerleader is under fire for photos she’s posted of her hunting expeditions.
The 19-year-old has stirred up controversy with a number of photos posted to her public Facebook page, which she launched in February, in which she smiles and poses beside a series of dead exotic animals — from a lion to a hippo, elephant and more — that she's hunted over the years.
In her bio posted to the social network, Jones says she followed her father on "hunting adventures" as a child, and shot her first animal, a white rhino, at the age of 13 on a trip to South Africa. She has since returned to Africa several times where she has "harvested" a wide variety of animals, and now hopes to host a television show about her exploits.
Jones, whose page had more than 89,000 likes on Tuesday, has since become the target of animal activists, and an online petition that has garnered over 80,000 signatures is asking Facebook to remove the college sophomore’s page citing “animal cruelty.”
The petition, posted June 22, calls for the teen's page to be removed for the “sake of all animals, especially the animals in the African region... where hunters are going for fun just to kill an animal!”
In a statement obtained by TODAY, Jones' family defended the photos and the actions of Kendall and her father Cody.
"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 the statement.
"Secondly, the tags, licenses, and fees purchased in addition to the services provided by local trackers, skinners, and assistants totalled over $160,000 USD, not including travel and/or production costs. In Zimbabwe, where over 70% of the country's population is classified as poor or extremely poor, this money, along with the $200 million hunters provide annually to the overall African economy, can provide a great deal of stimulus for the local economies. In the most rural areas, most people are unemployed and depend on bartering as a way of living and their economy welcomes hunters. We're very proud of Kendall and Cody in not only helping to conserve these species for future generations, but also for helping contribute both money and jobs to an extremely poor area of Africa."
Read More: http://on.today.com/1ooijuw
Photo courtesy of Kendall Jone's Facebook Page.
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