WASHINGTON, D.C.: US authorities launched an investigation Thursday into the killing of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, as the American dentist who hunted the big cat remained in hiding amid mounting global outrage. Trophy hunter Walter Palmer killed Cecil the lion earlier this month after the feline was allegedly lured out of the Hwange National Park boundaries with a dead animal as bait. The professional Zimbabwean hunter who organized the hunt has been charged in Zimbabwe with “failing to prevent an illegal hunt.” But a court hearing for the landowner accused of allowing the hunt was delayed on Thursday. The US government, meanwhile, has opened a probe into the hunt. “The US Fish & Wildlife Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of Cecil the lion,” said Edward Grace, deputy chief of law enforcement at the agency. Crowds left plush toys of lions, tigers and monkeys at Palmer’s River Bluff Dental practice in Minnesota. A sign reading “Rot in Hell” was plastered on the office door.